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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Refusing to take a breath test

In the state of Washington, motorists who hold a valid driver's license or who operate a vehicle within the state lines are deemed to have given consent to have a breath test conducted on them by law enforcement personnel when requested. If they do not submit to a breath test, they could face certain legal consequences.

By statute, operators of vehicles give their implied consent to breath tests if law enforcement officers have reasonable grounds to believe that they are driving under the influence of alcohol. However, prior to administering the test, the officer is required to inform drivers of their rights under the law. This includes informing them that they have the right to seek additional testing by qualified individuals of their choosing.

If they refuse to take the breath test, they will have their driving privileges revoked or denied for a minimum of one year. In this case, the test will not be conducted unless it is otherwise authorized under the law. If they do submit to a breath test and it is found that their blood alcohol content is over the legal limit, theirdriver's license will be revoked for a minimum of 90 days.

If a person refuses a breath test, authorities could use the breath test refusal during a DUI trial. In some cases, the breath test refusal could provide strong evidence that the accused person was aware that he or she was driving under the influence. As such, a criminal law attorney could assist with creating a strong defense for those who are facing DUI charges after refusing to take a breath test. One possible strategy could be to challenge the traffic stop on the basis that authorities did not have the required reasonable suspicion.

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