What is implied consent in Pennsylvania?

Have you ever heard of the saying, “driving is a privilege, it is not a right?” That is the basis of implied consent. When you sign the application to receive your driver’s license, part of what you are agreeing to is to submit to a chemical test if requested by a police officer during a traffic stop. A chemical test is used to determine your blood alcohol level and you can be tested by breath, urine or blood. The test can be done by breath on the roadside during the stop or at the police station or medical facility.

You do have the right to refuse the test. However, you will need to be prepared to face strict penalties for the refusal regardless if you are found guilty of DUI. One thing to also keep in mind: you can challenge your test if the arresting officer did not have a reasonable suspicion to administer the test.

Implied consent in Pennsylvania include the following:

  • Providing a driver’s license and proof of insurance when requested by a police officer.
  • Consent to a breath, blood and urine test when asked by a police officer.
  • Participating in a field sobriety test. 

Penalty for refusing a blood alcohol test

Refusing to take the test to determine your blood alcohol content can subject you to additional harsh penalties besides the charges you will face if you are found guilty of DUI. Even if you successfully defend the charges for DUI, you can still have your license suspended for refusing the test. Prior to taking the test, an officer is required to point out there are penalties for refusing the test.

Implied consent penalties:

First offense – One-year suspension of driver’s license plus possible additional fees up to $2,000

Second offense – 18-month suspension of driver’s license plus possible additional fees up to $2,000

Third-offense - 18-month suspension of driver’s license plus possible additional fees up to $2,000

With implied consent, by refusing to take a chemical test at the request of a police officer, you are facing penalties that can keep from driving for up to one year or more. A refusal of the test will also reflect badly on you during your court case as it will imply you may have been guilty of being over the blood alcohol limit.

If you are suspected of operating your vehicle under the influence and the police officer requests that you take a test, you should strongly consider taking the test. The officer cannot demand that you take the test, but you may face consequences with your refusal.

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