Penalty for Refusing Breathalyzer Test | Breath Test Refusal Attorneys, Washington State

A refusal to take a breath test after being arrested for DUI or Physical Control 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 Washington DUI attorneys at Callahan Law, P.S., Inc. 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, even if the police got a warrant to take your blood forcibly to test it for impairing substances.

Call (206) 866-6739 or Click to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test? | Washington DUI Lawyers


Potential Jail Sentence for a Breath Test Refusal

By law, a court has to impose harsher penalties, including additional jail time, for people convicted of DUI or Physical Control who refused to provide breath samples. Our Washington DUI attorneys work hard to find ways to beat the case, if possible, or to convince the prosecutor to strike the refusal allegation or reduce the charge to something less serious. The maximum time the judge can give you is 364 days in jail.

The minimum jail for breath test refusal is:

  • First conviction (no priors within 7 years) – 2 days minimum in jail
  • Second conviction (within 7 years) – 45 days minimum in jail, plus 90 days on electronic home detention (house arrest)
  • Third or fourth conviction (within 7 years) – 120 days minimum in jail, plus 150 days electronic home detention

What Is Considered a “Prior?”

A “prior offense” is a conviction or a deferred prosecution for a variety of offenses that the legislature has deemed to be similar to a DUI or Physical Control. The most commonly occurring “prior offenses” are Reckless Driving, Negligent Driving in the First Degree, and Reckless Endangerment if reduced from an original charge of DUI or physical control within 7 years (whether under state law or an equivalent law). 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 felony DUI, felony Physical Control, Vehicular Homicide or Vehicular Assault is also a prior offense, if it was committed while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, even if it was amended to a lesser means of committing the crime. A complete list of “prior offenses” can be found at RCW 46.61.5055(14).


Penalty for refusing breathalyzer test | Tacoma DUI Lawyers | Callahan Law, P.S., Inc.
Breath Test Refusal Laws

Penalty for refusing breathalyzer test

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 breath test 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. 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 Breath Test

In addition to jail and financial obligations, a DUI or Physical Control conviction with a refusal entails a longer license revocation:

Prosecutors often attempt to argue in trial that a person refuses a breath test 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 have the option of a blood test instead, however, even if the officer obtains a warrant for a blood test, the refusal of the breath test will still stand. 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 breath test machine.

Do Not Let a Breath Test Refusal Complicate Your Life. Turn to Callahan Law, P.S., Inc. for Help.

Let our DUI lawyers investigate your case and defend you against the allegation that you refused the breath test. We focus on DUI defense and will bring all our experience and knowledge to helping you get through this with the least possible consequences.

To speak to a team member from our firm and tell your story in confidence, call us at (206) 472-1138 or fill out the form below.

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