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Should I Take a Breathalyzer Test in Washington State?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Each person’s situation is unique and you should consult an attorney as soon as possible if you are pulled over for a DUI. Below are some of the possible outcomes of taking a breathalyzer test or refusing one in Washington.

In Washington State, if you are driving, you are subject to implied consent laws. RCW 46.20.308 states, “Any person who operates a motor vehicle within this state is deemed to have given consent, subject to the provisions of RCW 46.61.506, to a test or tests of his or her breath for the purpose of determining the alcohol concentration in his or her breath if arrested for any offense where, at the time of the arrest, the arresting officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person had been driving or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug or was in violation of RCW 46.61.503.” This means that by driving on Washington's roads, you have already consented to chemical testing (such as a breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test) if an officer has reasonable suspicion to believe you are driving under the influence.

If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, usually the officer will have you get out of the car and ask you to submit to Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). These tests are part of the DUI packet that the officer will fill out if you are arrested. They include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg-stand test, and the walk-and-turn test. Can you refuse Field Sobriety Tests in Washington? Yes. They are completely voluntary and there is no statutory penalty for refusing.

After either completing the FSTs or refusing them, the officer will generally ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test using a Portable Breath Test (PBT). Refusing to take the breathalyzer test can result in penalties, including immediate suspension of your driver's license for one year. RCW 46.20.308 also states that the refusal can be used in a criminal trial. If you do refuse, the officer will likely apply for a search warrant to obtain a blood sample. This will take some time, as the officer will have to write the search warrant, get it signed by a judge, and take you to the hospital for medical personnel to draw your blood. Additionally, the actual test results from the Washington State Patrol are currently taking approximately 10 months to get back.

If you take the breathalyzer test and the results show any alcohol in your system, you will be arrested for DUI.

While you technically have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, doing so can have serious consequences, including administrative penalties and potential legal ramifications. If you are in a situation where you are uncertain about whether to take the test, or if you have been charged with a DUI, call Powers Law Group at 360-419-0809 today to speak with an experienced DUI lawyer.