Do you have Washington State Breathalyzer Refusal DUI or Physical Control Refusal Charge? A refusal to take a breathalyzer (now called a DataMaster or BAC) will cause you to be punished more severely than if you took the test, IF you are convicted. It also will cause your license to be revoked by the department of licensing for at least a year. But do not fret—our BAC/Breathalyzer Refusal Lawyers know how to defend you in court and with the DOL—so it is important that you request a DOL hearing within 20 days of the date you were arrested (or asked to take the breathalyzer)—more on this later.
Potential jail sentence for a breathalyzer refusal. By law, a court has to impose certain penalties, including jail time, for people convicted of DUI or Physical Control with a refusal to take the BAC or breathalyzer test. Our DUI Lawyers work hard to find ways to beat the case, if possible, or to convince the prosecutor to offer a plea bargain to reduce the charge to something less serious. The maximum time the judge can give you is 364 days in jail. The minimum jail for breathalyzer refusal is:
What is considered a “prior”? A “prior offense” is a DUI or Physical Control (whether under state law or an equivalent local law) or: a reckless driving, negligent driving in the first degree, or reckless endangerment IF reduced from an original charge of DUI or Physical Control within 7 years. A deferred prosecution that was or was not successfully completed is also considered a “prior” and so is a DUI or Physical Control that was on a pretrial diversion or stipulated continuance or “continued without finding” within 7 years. A prior conviction for vehicular homicide or vehicular assault is also a prior offense, if it was committed while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug. As of September of 2011, these crimes are also prior offenses if the charges were originally filed as vehicular homicide or vehicular assault committed while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug.
Fines, costs and assessments for a breathalyzer refusal (BAC refusal). Washington courts are required by law to impose mandatory minimum fines on people convicted of DUI or physical control. In addition to the mandatory fines, court costs and assessments will also be imposed. The amount of money a person can be required to pay to the court can be significant. The minimum fine for a first offense breathalyzer refusal is $500.00, adding costs and assessments brings the amount to $1,195.50. If the court imposed the maximum fine of $5,000.00, plus costs and assessments, the total amount would be $8,845.50. Even more can be added to the statutory fine, costs and assessments if the court adds restitution, emergency response cost recovery (reimbursement to law enforcement), warrant and probation costs. We work hard to minimize the likelihood that our clients will have to pay these excessive amounts by trying to get the case dismissed, reduced or won at trial.
Other consequences of refusing the breathalyzer. In addition to jail and financial obligations, the court must order a person convicted of DUI or Physical Control to apply to DOL for an ignition interlock driver’s license and to have an ignition interlock installed in any vehicles the person drives. A license revocation of at least two years is imposed by the court; increasing to three years for a second offense (with refusal) within seven years, and four years for a third or fourth offense within seven years.
Prosecutors tend to argue in trial that a person refuses a breathalyzer when they know they are guilty. But there are many reasons why a person might refuse: they may distrust the machine, the officer, or the government in general. They may mistakenly believe that if they refuse the breath test they will be given a blood test instead. Or, they may not have actually refused, but due to asthma, COPD, a panic attack or other physical condition, or due to a mechanical defect in the machine, were unable to blow enough air into the breathalyzer.
License revocation and breathalyzer refusal. For a breath test refusal, the department of licensing will revoke your license for one year (for two if this is your second or subsequent DUI or Physical Control administrative revocation in seven years)—whether or not you are convicted in court. So it is important that you request an opportunity to contest the revocation in an administrative hearing (these are held over the phone). We have defended and won many of these hearings, difficult though they may be to win. However, you will not get a hearing at all unless you request one by filling out the paperwork given to you by the arresting officer for that purpose. If you were not given the form, or if you misplaced it, you can get one on line at the department of licensing website. You only have 20 days from the date of your arrest to postmark the envelope containing your request, or to submit the request on line.
Do not let a breathalyzer refusal ruin your life. Let our DUI lawyers investigate your case and defend you against the allegation that you refused the breathalyzer. We focus on DUI defense and will bring all our experience and knowledge to helping you get through this with the least possible consequences. Contact us today.