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Driver Denied Attempt to Choose Chemical Test following DUI Arrest

Posted on February 28th, 2016

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a driver’s request to take a breathalyzer test instead of a blood test, amounted to a refusal of the chemical test for the purpose of proving a DUI. Under Pennsylvania’s implied consent law, all motorists are assumed to automatically consent to chemical testing when they get behind the wheel.  If a driver is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol in Pennsylvania and they refuse to submit a blood, breath or urine test, they are subject to an automatic license suspension even if found not guilty of the DUI offense in court.

It is the officers duty to give the driver the Informed Consent Warnings (otherwise called O’Connoll Warnings) that inform the person that, (1) the person’s operating privilege will be suspended upon refusal to submit to chemical testing, and (2) if the person refuses to submit to chemical testing, upon conviction or plea for DUI, the person will be subject to the penalties provided in Implied Consent Statute regarding Penalties.
This case arose from a driver stopped under suspicion of DUI in Luzerne County.  Instead of submitting a blood test, the driver requested a breathalyzer or urine test because of his body easily subject to bruising due to bumps and needles.

In the decision Justice Stevens wrote, “A motorist arrested for DUI is subject to any and all tests, and effectively relinquishes any right to choose his preferred test over an officer’s.”

While this decision is settled for now – the Defendant in this case plans to request a new argument before the Supreme Court, noting that the court was missing three members when it reached its decision. Those vacancies could be filled as early as next month.

Pennsylvania DUI Law States:

1) One may not drive a vehicle if he/her has drank enough alcohol to render him incapable of safely driving the vehicle.

2) Place his BAC above the .08% level.

The DUI law also renders punishments through a tiering system.  The tiers increase the severity of the punishment you receive depending on how high your blood alcohol content is, or if you have refused to submit to testing violating the implied consent law. Punishments can range from no jail time required, all the way up to a mandatory minimum of at least one year in state prison.

Don’t face these high fines and mandatory minimum sentences alone – The DUI defense lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices have decades of criminal defense experience in Delaware, Chester County, Lancaster, and Philadelphia Counties. Call our office today for a free case evaluation at (610) 692-8700.