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Implied consent laws: What do they have to do with breathalyzers?

Implied consent laws: What do they have to do with breathalyzers?

In our post last week, we mentioned what are called “implied consent” laws. You have probably heard that term before but may be unsure of what it means. Today, we’ll talk about what these laws are and why you will probably lose your driver’s license if you are pulled over for drunk driving and refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Like all states, West Virginia has an implied consent law. Because driving is considered a privilege rather than a right, this privilege comes with some conditions. Just by being a licensed driver, the logic goes, you implicitly give consent to take a breathalyzer test if asked to do so by a law enforcement official during a traffic stop.

You can absolutely refuse to take a breathalyzer test. However, different states impose penalties for refusal. In West Virginia, refusing to submit to a test will result in the loss of your license for one year. This is because, under implied consent laws, you have failed to meet the conditions of licensure and you therefore must forfeit your driving privileges.

The penalties for breath-test refusal are obvious, but depending on how you look at it, there may also be some legal benefits. Refusing the test means that breathalyzer test results cannot be used against you. You may, in some cases, prevent the DUI charge from going on your record. However, you are the only one who can make the determination about whether or not to take the test, and you should weigh your options carefully.

Source: FindLaw, “Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?”

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