Should You Refuse a Breath Test for DUI in Washington?

by John Lutgens on August 4, 2013

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DUI (driving under the influence) is a serious offense in Washington and in all states. You’ve been stopped and questioned. The police officer finds reason to suspect that you have been drinking too much alcohol. You end up at the police station or the local hospital. You are about to be given a breathalyzer or blood test in order to find your alcohol level. In all 50 states, anyone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher may have committed a DUI or DWI (driving while intoxicated). So, if you fail the test, you may be charged with a felony.

What happens if you refuse? Taking the test is at best a rather unpleasant experience. In fact, you may think you have not been drinking too much. Or you may think that the officer was at fault for stopping you. You may even be right. But does that make it right for you to refuse to take the test? Do you know the consequences of such an action in the state of Washington?

If  You Refuse The Breath Test

A refusal will take away your license for one year at least. The Department of Licensing will revoke your license automatically. On the other hand, even if you got a DUI and it is your first time, you’d lose your license for only three months.

What if you’re convicted? A refusal if you had no other DUI charge within seven years will mean no license for two years on a conviction and minimum jail time of two days. If you took the test and were convicted, you’d have no license for just 90 days and only one possible day in jail.

You refuse to take the test and you got to trial. To the court, the refusal makes you look guilty even if it shouldn’t. If you took the test, a criminal defense lawyer might well be able to point out irregularities in the arrest or get the judge’s sympathy. Was the blood test administered fairly and accurately? Is the result reliable?

A charge of DUI is serious business and not to be taken lightly. A good time to consider the decisions is always before the wrong things happen. In the question of a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test when a DUI is pending, all in all, the risks suggest you take the test.

What do you think?

John Lutgens
Mr. Lutgens is a criminal defense attorney in Washington State specializing in DUIs. Find out more about his practice at
John Lutgens
John Lutgens

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