When investigating someone for driving under the influence (DUI), it's common for an officer to ask the person to take a breath or blood test to determine the amount of alcohol or drugs in the driver's system. The driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or the concentration of drugs in the driver's blood is often used to prove a DUI in court.
This article gives an overview of West Virginia's implied consent law and the consequences of an unlawful refusal.
West Virginia's implied consent law specifies that any person who holds a West Virginia driver's license or operates a vehicle within the state is deemed to have consented to a blood or breath test. For a DUI arrest to be lawful, the officer must have probable cause to believe that the driver was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or that an underage driver was operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol.
An unlawful refusal in violation of the state's implied consent law will result in license suspension. The length of the suspension generally depends on how many prior refusal offenses the driver has. The suspension period is one year for a first offense, ten years for a second offense (reinstatement is possible after five years), and life for a third or subsequent offense.
Drivers who wish to contest their refusal-related suspension can request an administrative hearing.