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Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Washington?

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Dec 22, 2013 | 0 Comments

A common question that Washington residents ask is whether they can refuse a Breathalyzer test following an arrest.

Washington Implied Consent Law

Generally, Washington implied consent laws provide that you give consent to undergo a breath or blood alcohol test if you are suspected of drunk driving. In most cases, you will be asked to take a breath test. However, in extreme circumstances such as unconsciousness or if you are suspected to be on drugs, a blood alcohol test may be ordered.

Right of Refusal

While you impliedly give consent to a breath or blood test under Washington implied consent laws, you still generally have the right to refuse. In other words, an officer usually cannot physically force you to breathe into a device or forcibly remove a blood sample. However, the implied consent laws do provide a penalty for refusal.

The law provides that you will lose your license for up to one year if you refuse to take the test. So even if you are sober or if criminal charges are never brought against you, you will face the license suspension simply for refusing the test. In addition, a judge or jury can consider the fact that you refused the test as evidence against you at a DUI trial. A court may hear evidence possibly supporting that you are intoxicated even in the absence of a test result.

Also keep in mind that the right of refusal is just a general rule. In some cases such as an accident that seriously injures or kills someone, the officer may order a test without first seeking your permission.

Contact a Seattle DUI Attorney

In most routine DUIs, you do have the right of refusal to take a Breathalyzer test. However, you should know that the benefits of refusing the test do not necessarily outweigh the negatives. Refusing the test does not mean that you will not be charged with a crime or that prosecutors will not have evidence against you.

To learn more about Washington implied consent laws and fighting a DUI charge in the King County area, contact an experienced attorney at Wolff Criminal Defense by calling 425-284-2000.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


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