Washington’s Implied Consent Laws and Refusing a DUI Alcohol Test

The law requiring drivers to submit to a breath or blood test when arrested for driving under the influence.

You can be convicted of a DUI in Washington for driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle:

Prosecutors often use the results of a breath or blood test to prove a DUI charge in court. Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test might deprive the prosecution of incriminating evidence. However, the state’s implied consent law imposes certain penalties on drivers who unlawfully refuse DUI testing.

Implied Consent in Washington

Washington’s “implied consent” law states that any person who operates a vehicle in Washington is deemed to have given consent to a breath test. More specifically, this law requires all drivers who are lawfully arrested for DUI to submit to a breathalyzer test when asked to do so by an officer.

Refusing testing will result in administrative license suspension and increased criminal penalties.

Consequences of Refusal

License suspension. When a driver refuses testing, the officer is supposed to report the refusal to the Department of Licensing. The department will then suspend the driver’s license for two years. If the driver has a prior refusal or DUI conviction within the last seven years, the suspension will be three years. And if the motorist has two prior refusal or convictions within seven years, the third offense will result in a four-year suspension.

Restricted license. Generally, the suspended driver can immediately request a restricted license after installing an ignition interlock device (IID). This license authorizes the holder to drive during the suspension period but only with an IID.

Evidentiary uses. In the criminal case, the prosecutor is allowed to tell the jury that the driver refused testing. Prosecutors often argue that a refusal is evidence of the defendant trying to conceal impairment.

Criminal charges. A driver who refuses testing might face increased penalties if convicted of a DUI in criminal court.

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