When police officers suspect someone of getting behind the wheel after drinking, they start trying to build a case against that individual during the traffic stop. Part of building a case involves talking to someone and having them perform field sobriety tests. Another aspect of this process usually involves chemical testing.
Officers must ask you to perform a breath test if they want to collect chemical evidence that you are actually under the influence of alcohol. Do you, as a Washington resident, have to comply with an officer’s request to test your breath?
Drivers have already given implied consent to chemical testing
Driving is a privilege, and the state requires certain concessions from those who want to hold a driver’s license and drive on public roads. One of the sacrifices you made to retain your license and legally drive is agreeing to the implied consent law in Washington.
This law essentially states that anyone driving has already given their theoretical consent to chemical testing during a traffic stop. Officers can’t compel you to give a breath sample during a traffic stop, but they can arrest you for refusing the test. The penalties for refusing the testing likely include the suspension of your license.
Additionally, you should be aware that even if you refuse a test, the officer may be able to get a warrant to perform a blood test, and the state can bring charges without chemical evidence. Refusing a test isn’t the only option after and alleged impaired driving traffic stop. You may be able to defend yourself against pending charges, even if you performed and failed a chemical breath test.