Fairfax County, VA- Should you be charged with for simply refusing a breathalyzer? That is the central question of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, Birchfield v. North Dakota, questions whether states have the right to penalize individuals for refusing a blood test or breathalyzer if they are pulled over for DUI and their decisions could solidify implied consent laws or see drastic changes in state DUI laws.
In Virginia, a refusal charge can result in a one-year license suspension, but in other states, a refusal charge can land a person in jail. The fact that a refusal charge can result in a criminal penalty is the point of contention in Birchfield v. North Dakota, and justices will determine if implied consent laws are a violation of an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights, the Bismarck Tribune reports.
The Fourth Amendment gives everyone protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” with past case law establishing that drug tests and breathalyzers are intrusive, thus requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant. But state legislatures found a way around the warrant requirement, by classifying driving as a privilege, so they can charge individuals they suspect of being intoxicated for a refusal and confiscate their license on the spot.
Birchfield asserts that an individual’s protections against “unreasonable” searches and seizures do not end when they are pulled over for drunken driving. But the state of North Dakota argues that it is in the public’s interest to keep implied consent laws in place, maintaining that driving is a privilege and not a right. They added that implied consent laws are a valuable law enforcement tool, according to the Bismarck Tribune.
Supreme Court justices just heard oral arguments for the case on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, so a decision won’t be forthcoming until June.
If you are pulled over for a DUI, remember that refusing a blood test or breathalyzer will result in automatic suspension of your driver’s license. That’s one of the conditions of getting a driver’s license in Virginia until the U.S. Supreme Court decides otherwise.
At the time of their arrest, a motorist may be wrangling over whether they should submit to sobriety tests. That’s a hard one because the answer really depends on a number of factors like the driver’s level of intoxication or prior DUI arrests. If you have a high BAC, you may be better off with a refusal charge than a DUI. On the other hand, if your BAC is low, you’ll be better off not refusing and challenging your DUI in court.
Whatever you decide at the scene, you need to retain and DUI lawyer in Fairfax County, Virginia to help manage the fallout of your DUI arrest. USAttorneys can help you find a lawyer to work on your defense and do whatever they can to mitigate the consequences you face if you are convicted of a DUI or charge with refusal.