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Can you refuse a breath test in Washington?

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2020 | DUI |

If an officer stops you because he or she suspects you of drinking and driving, he or she may ask you to take a breath test. Though the officer will pose the request as a question, you should reconsider if you plan to answer with “no.” 

Before administering the test, the officer has a legal obligation to inform you of your right to refuse the test. However, he or she must also warn you of the legal ramifications of doing so. 

Implied consent 

According to Washington State Legislature, by simply deciding to operate a motor vehicle, you give your consent to take a breath test if an arresting officer has reasonable grounds to believe you were operating the vehicle under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or drug. Washington law refers to this as “implied consent.” By refusing the breath test, you are in violation of the law and may be subject to criminal consequences. 

Consequences of refusing a breath test 

If you refuse to take a breath test, you risk automatically losing your license, permit or privilege to drive for at least one year. You may also have to appear for a criminal trial, where the state has the option of using your refusal against you as evidence. 

If, after refusing a chemical test the first time, you later submit to a breath or blood test, you risk an additional 90-day suspension or revocation period if you are over 21 years of age and the results of the test reveal that your BAC is 0.08% or more. If you are younger than 21, you face the same consequences if the test reveals your BAC is 0.02% or higher. 

If the state revokes or suspends your license, you have the option to apply for an ignition interlock device. Doing so will result in the immediate reinstatement of your license.