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What are Pennsylvania’s Implied Consent Laws?

August 22, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

There are many myths surrounding the DUI laws in Pennsylvania. One of the biggest is that you can refuse to take any test, at the side of the road or at a police station, if you’ve been pulled over for a suspected DUI. Under Pennsylvania’s implied consent laws however, refusing these tests is a mistake. All states have implied consent laws, under the reasoning that driving is a privilege, not a guaranteed right. It’s also the responsibility of law enforcement to keep drunk drivers off the road. As such, implied consent gives them certain authority to ask things from you, such as taking certain tests.

Implied Consent Laws in Pennsylvania

Implied consent refers to the consent you give to submit to tests, when asked by law enforcement, even if you don’t provide it at the time you are pulled over. You provide your implied consent when you sign your driver’s license and so, every driver in Pennsylvania is subject to the state’s implied consent laws.

In Pennsylvania, implied consent laws are also known as the O’Connell Warnings. Under the law, drivers have given implied consent to:

  • Provide law enforcement with a driver’s license and proof of insurance when asked.
  • Consent to a breathalyzer test, and blood and urine tests when asked by law enforcement to determine your blood alcohol level.
  • Participate in a field sobriety test, if asked by law enforcement.

Refusal to do any of these things is a refusal to comply with the law. Those who do refuse can face harsh penalties for that refusal, even if they are not found guilty of a DUI.

Penalties for Failure to Comply with Implied Consent Laws

While many people think drivers have the right to refuse the tests law enforcement requests, they don’t. When motorists refuse to take these chemical tests, they will have their license suspended. That suspension is enforced regardless of whether a person is ultimately convicted of a DUI or not.

A first offense for refusing testing is a license suspension of one year. Second and third offenses have a license suspension of 18 months.

With such harsh penalties, it’s important to always comply with any request for a test law enforcement asks for. An attorney can challenge the results of these tests later in court. For example, they may prove an officer did not have probable cause to pull someone over. When that is the case, any evidence obtained is inadmissible in court, including test results.

However, it is much more difficult to defend a refusal to testing, as all drivers in Pennsylvania have already given their implied consent to have these tests taken.

Contact a Pennsylvania DUI Attorney for Help with Your Case

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, or have had your license suspended for refusing a test, you need the help of an experienced Allentown DUI attorney. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, we know how to successfully fight DUI charges and give you the best chance of success in court. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 so we can begin reviewing your case.



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