What is Implied Consent?
When police stop a driver and believe that they are impaired by a substance, they will often ask the driver to take a breath test. This test takes a sample of a person's breath and measures it for the presence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. It is an easy way for police to find out if a person is intoxicated. The results of a breath test can be used in court as evidence that a person was impaired. In order to prevent all drivers from simply refusing to take a sobriety test of any kind, lawmakers established implied consent.
Under Washington law RCW 46.61.506, anyone who drives a vehicle in the state is deemed to have given their consent to submit to a sobriety test in order for police to determine their alcohol concentration, THC concentration or the presence if any other drug as long as they officer has reasonable grounds to suspect the driver was impaired. This is called Implied Consent. If a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test when accused of DUI, they are considered to be in violation of implied consent and will face penalties.
Washington Implied Consent Laws
When an officer pulls over or otherwise stops a driver and is given reasonable grounds to suspect that they may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer is entitled to request that the suspect submit to a breath test. If the suspect declines taking this test, the officer must inform the driver of their right to refuse the test and instead choose to have an additional test such as a urine or blood test performed. The officer must also inform the suspect of the following:
- The penalties for refusing the test
- That test refusal may be used as evidence against them in a criminal trial
- The penalties if they choose to take the test and fail That failing the test will lead to license suspension
- That drivers who lose their license may be eligible for a ignition interlock license right away
This information must be provided in order for a driver to make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to take the test. Implied consent laws only apply to breath tests, a DUI suspect can still turn down taking field sobriety tests and blood tests if they please without penalty.
Violation of Implied Consent in Seattle
After being informed of their rights, a driver who still chooses to decline the test will be subject to a minimum of 1 year of license suspension. If the driver chooses to take the test, they will be subject to 90 days of license suspension if any of the following are true:
- The driver is 21 or older and is found to have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or a THC concentration of 5.00 or more
- The driver is under 21 and it's down to have an alcohol concentration of 0.02 or more or a THC concentration of more than 0.00
- Driver is under 21 and is in violation of any DUI law
A person who fails or refuses to take a breath test will be subject to immediate license suspension. This is an administrative suspension that occurs in addition to any other penalties the defendant will face if convicted of DUI. In order to stop this license suspension process, the offender has 20 days after arrest to request a hearing with the department of licensing. There is also a $375 fee that must be paid. At the hearing, a defendant can only argue the following:
- That the officer did not have” reasonable grounds” to believe that the defendant was operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- That the defendant was not placed under arrest
- That the defendant was not informed by the officer of the penalties of refusing the test
- If a test was administered and failed:
- That the “applicable requirements” for taking the test were not met before the test was administered
- That the officer did not get express consent from the defendant
- That the test results failed to show the defendant was over the legal limit
Call a Seattle DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for DUI in Seattle, it is important that you call a lawyer right away. You only have 20 days after arrest to fight immediate license suspension if you refused or failed a breath test. Attorney Steve Karimi will help you file this paperwork and even represent you in your hearing. If the department cannot be convinced to lift your license suspension, he can help you immediately request a temporary driver's license and install an ignition interlock system so that you can keep driving.
Call The Law Offices of Steve Karimi now to find out more about implied consent laws in Washington.