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360-464-1650 | 888-655-2647
Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Washington's implied consent law

More than one in five motorists suspected of driving while inebriated in the United States refuse to submit to a breath or chemical test according to the National Traffic Safety Administration. While drivers who refuse to submit to such tests may feel that they are denying prosecutors with vital evidence, their refusal could still have consequences.

Washington, like all other U.S. states, has an implied consent law. When Washington residents apply for a driver's license, they agree to submit to the reasonable requests of police officers to submit to a breath test. Officers may make such a request when they have placed an individual under arrest and have good reason to believe that they are intoxicated.

Residents of the Evergreen State who refuse to submit to a breath test face losing their driving privileges for at least a year, and their refusal could also be used against them in a criminal trial. Refusing a breath test also provides no guarantee that law enforcement will be unable to gather BAC evidence by other means. Police may seek search warrants to draw the blood of suspected drunk drivers that have been placed in custody, and they are even permitted to draw blood without a search warrant when exigent circumstances exist.

While the results of breath or blood tests may be compelling pieces of evidence in drunk driving cases, experienced criminal defense attorneys may be able to challenge their validity in certain situations. Modern breath testing equipment is highly sophisticated, but it must be maintained according to strict protocols and regularly recalibrated in order to provide accurate results.

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