Changes to PA DUI Refusal
According to the Daily Times, the Chester County, Montgomery County, and Delaware County Police Departments report some of the highest numbers of arrests for DUI crimes in the State. In 2014, Montgomery County had the most at 2,923 arrested, followed by Chester County at 1,983, and Delaware County at 1,930 arrests.
A key factor leading to these arrests has been the ability to use blood alcohol content tests to determine whether an individual was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Pennsylvania is among many states that have implied consent laws. Pennsylvania law requires that individuals afforded the privilege of driving on State roads submit to a BAC test if he or she has been suspected of committing a DUI offense.
Refusing to submit to a BAC test can subject an alleged offender to automatic license suspension, up to six (6) months in jail, and high fines –that is only for a first-time refusal with no prior DUI convictions or BAC refusals. The penalties increase the more times an individual refuses or if the individual has prior DUI convictions.
DUI Refusal Penalties Unconstitutional?
In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Birchfield v. North Dakota, 597 U.S. __ (2016), that blood tests performed without a proper warrant are an unconstitutional invasion of privacy in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The Birchfield decision led the legal community to wonder how it would handle DUI refusals that involved blood tests.
This past January, the Pennsylvania Superior Court answered that question by reversing a lower court decision penalizing a Chester County man for refusing a blood withdrawal. The Superior Court held that the lower court improperly relied on Pennsylvania State law criminalizing a third DUI refusal in opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
According to Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan, the rules outlining implied consent in the DL-26s have been amended to accommodate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Thus, while blood tests without a warrant are unconstitutional, police are still able to use other, less invasive, tests such as the breathalyzer. Refusing a breathalyzer may still subject an individual to fines and jail-time under P.A. law.
Find an Attorney for DUI Refusals in Chester County, PA
While DUI blood withdrawals have been deemed unconstitutional, other field sobriety tests have not and are still being used by Chester County Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies. Moreover, police officers may still obtain a warrant to take a blood test and use the results as evidence in court.
If you or someone you know has refused to submit to a BAC test and are now facing criminal charges, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at [[$firm]].
Our office handles DUI and other driving offenses cases throughout the Chester County community in West Chester, West Goshen, Phoenixville, Coatesville, East town, and West Caln.
We also help people in the surrounding areas such as Lancaster County, Montgomery County, and Delaware County as well as the greater Philadelphia area.
Call our firm today at (610) 719-3200 to receive a free consultation.