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Do drivers have to submit to roadside testing in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2024 | DUI |

Police officers typically only pull people over when they suspect certain traffic violations. Suspicions of chemical intoxication are a common reason to conduct traffic stops. During a traffic stop, police officers may issue a citation or may attempt to gather evidence of more serious traffic infractions.

Whether an officer suspects impairment when they initially pull someone over or they begin to suspect someone of intoxication due to a conversation with the motorist in question, the officer might try to gather evidence that would warrant an impaired driving charge.

Do drivers have to submit to roadside testing after an officer pulls them over in Virginia?

Virginia does have an implied consent law

Motorists often want to comply with police officers’ requests during traffic stops, but they may also have the right to refuse certain requests. There are limits on police officers’ authority during traffic stops, and they may try to get around those limits by asking for someone’s consent.

The law does grant police officers the authority to request chemical testing in certain scenarios. Virginia’s implied consent law makes it an offense for a driver to decline post-arrest chemical breath testing. If a police officer already has probable cause to arrest someone for impairment, the driver could face secondary penalties for refusing to submit to a test.

That being said, drivers do not need to submit to a breath test prior to arrest. They also typically do not have a legal obligation to perform field sobriety tests. While officers may ask people to participate in physical testing as a way of gauging their level of intoxication, they cannot force someone to exit their vehicle and physically perform the tests.

Drivers who refuse to perform field sobriety tests should not face penalties for doing so. Depending on the timing of a breath test refusal, someone’s choice to decline a test could affect the charges and penalties they face.

Learning about the laws that apply in Virginia drunk driving cases can help people avoid getting arrested or better handle requests for chemical tests if they are stopped. Motorists who know their rights can more readily stand up for themselves during encounters with the police and avoid mistakes that could affect their criminal cases in the event that charges are filed.