Being pulled over by the police in Virginia can make anyone nervous, but these nerves can be amplified if the motorist is asked to perform a field sobriety test or a breath test to determine if they are driving under the influence. A DUI conviction could have significant short-term and long-term effects, and a motorist may be inclined to not submit to a breath test. They may feel it is unnecessary as they are not intoxicated, or they may be afraid of what the results will be. However, they should understand that there are consequences for refusing to take a DUI breath test.
Virginia, like other states in the nation, has "implied consent" laws. This means that in exchange for the privilege of driving, motorists agree to submit to a breath test to determine their blood alcohol content. If a motorist unreasonably refuses to do so, they will face consequences.
For a first refusal, a motorist's driver's license will be suspended for one year in addition to any suspension periods that may be imposed if they are convicted of DUI. A first refusal is a civil offense. If it is a person's second or subsequent refusal within 10 years of a prior refusal, this is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This means the motorist's driver's license may be revoked for three years starting from the date he or she was convicted, in addition to any suspension period that may be imposed if they are convicted of DUI.
As this shows, even if a person is not convicted of DUI, there are still consequences for unreasonably refusing to submit to a DUI breath test when asked to by police. Therefore, it is important that motorists keep these consequences in mind when deciding whether to refuse a breath test. Each person's situation is different, so those who have questions about breath test refusal and how these laws apply to them may want to seek legal guidance.