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What happens if I refuse to perform the field sobriety tests? Will I lose my license?

Posted by Sean Quinlan | Jan 02, 2015 | 0 Comments

There is no requirement for you to perform any of the field sobriety tests and there is no automatic mechanism for the police to suspend your driver's license if you decline to attempt these evaluations.  But having a driver's license is a qualified right, one that can be continuously reviewed by the State.  Though roadside agility tests are not required in Pennsylvania, police may compel a suspect to provide a blood, breath or urine sample but only after he or she has been arrested for DUI.  Pennsylvania's DUI law provides that a chemical test of a driver's blood alcohol content can't be performed by police unless he or she first establishes a “reasonable basis” upon which it can be demonstrated that the driver was operating a vehicle under the influence. Police use field sobriety tests to help develop this “reasonable basis” to submit motorists to chemical testing.

If you refuse to take the field sobriety tests, and are eventually convicted of DUI, you will lose your license as part of the criminal court proceeding.  However, that is likely months away from the time of your stop, and may never occur if an experienced DUI attorney helps you with your case.

So, what if I refuse the chemical tests after I've been arrested?  Will I lose my license?

Yes.  As mentioned earlier your license will, in all likelihood, be suspended. Though you are entitled to a hearing to challenge the suspension.  At this administrative hearing you have the right to challenge whether or not you refused to be tested.  If you lose the administrative hearing, your license will be suspended for at least a year.

If you refuse the chemical testing, you may still be entitled to get a temporary license issued as a stop-gap license to allow you to drive until you get your PennDOT hearing.  The continuation of driving privileges almost always lasts only until a decision is reached on your administrative license suspension AFTER you have properly and timely requested a hearing.

If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, give us a call as soon as possible.  Time is of the essence and we sincerely enjoy helping good people through tough times.

About the Author

Sean Quinlan

Attorney Quinlan has practiced law in Pennsylvania since 2001. He earned his J.D. at Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, PA, and earned his B.A. at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar. He also belongs to the Pennsylvania State Bar Associati...


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