Consequences For Refusing a Blood Test in Prince William
A breathalyzer test that is administered at the police station, as distinguished by the road side test, is covered by the Virginia implied consent laws. What the implied consent laws say is that if you are a licensed Virginia driver, or even if you are not a licensed Virginia driver, but you are operating a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you have, by virtue of operating that vehicle, consented to give either a breath test or a blood test in the event that there is probable cause to believe that you have a committed a DUI.
If a person refuses to take that breathalyzer test or refuses to give a sample of their blood under those circumstances, they can be charged with the civil offense of refusal.
Refusal has serious consequences in and of itself. Even in the case where a DUI cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, if it’s nevertheless shown that there was probable cause for the arrest, the person can still be convicted of the refusal. The consequence is that their license, in the case of a Virginia driver, and their privilege to drive in Virginia if they are not a Virginia driver, will be suspended for a period of a year.
The true difficulty with refusal is that whereas in most other settings, where a driver’s license is suspended, one can get a restricted driver’s license which would allow them to go to work, that allow them to go to school, a number of other things that are allowed by Virginia law. If a person is convicted of refusal; they cannot get a restricted driver’s license during that one year suspension. They are simply without the ability to drive for a period of 12 months.
Can You Challenge The Suspension of Your License After DUI in Prince William County?
Yes. There are a couple of ways in which challenging the suspended license comes up in Prince William County. The first one happens frequently in the context of a DUI charge. If someone is charged with a DUI in Prince William County, their license is going to be administratively suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The length of that revocation is dictated by the severity of the charge. For a first offense, that revocation will be for seven days. In the case of a second offense, it will be 60 days, or until the trial, whichever is the shorter period of time. And for a third or subsequent offense, it will be until the date of trial.
Now, an individual has the right to challenge that initial administrative suspension before a General District Court judge prior to trial, but they have to show that there was no probable cause for the arrest. If they can do that, then the court can rescind that suspension.
The other typical scenario where that happens is when someone is convicted of an offense which includes a driver’s license suspension. This can be DUI, another serious traffic offense (such as reckless driving or hit and run), or almost any drug conviction in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
If an individual is convicted of a misdemeanor which includes suspension of their driver’s license, they have right to appeal that decision to the Circuit Court in Prince William County and get a new trial in front of a new judge.
Along with the license suspension is the issue of the entitlement to restricted driver’s license. Courts have discretion in most cases to issue a restricted driver’s license.
If the court refuses to issue a restricted license, or issues a restricted license that the defendant believes is unfair or doesn’t allow them to do the things they may otherwise be entitled to under the law, that decision can also be appealed in a misdemeanor case from the General District Court or the Circuit Court.