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What happens when you refuse to take a breath test for testing alcohol but pass the sobriety test and get arrested?

Seattle, WA |
Attorney answers 4


It appears you refused to take the preliminary breath test on the road side and believe you passed the coordination test afterward. Or was it the ultimate breath test in the Precinct that you passed?

Its not quite clear, but usually if you pass the final breat test at police Headquarters or the Precinct, that's the one that is determinative. That's because the roadside breath tests are not usually that accurate and that's why the courts don't consider them when deciding whether you're actually guilty of DWI.

Speak to a local attorney if you want to know more details.

Good luck.

This answer is not intended to form an attorney/client relationship and any answers do not constitute direct legal advice and should not be followed unless and until you have spoken with an attorney of your choice.


First of all, nobody passes the roadside gymnastics. You might think you did fine, but I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that the officer observed "clues" during the test. In Washington, the portable breath test is only admissible for determining probable cause to arrest. The results are not admissible at trial. The PBT is a voluntary test and you are within your rights to refuse it. Ultimately, whether the officer had enough to arrest you will be determined by the totality of your driving, the officers observations and the sobriety tests.

If you refused to take the breath test at the station you will be facing at least a one year license suspension with DOL depending on how many prior DUIs you have in the last 7 years. Also, refusal of the test at the station can be used against you in court. You really to sit down with an attorney and discuss this in detail to get any real idea of what defenses you may have. Sometimes refusing the breath test is in your best interest. Other times it just makes one more problem to deal with. Always ask to speak with an attorney to help you decide whether you should take the test prior to blowing.



Scott, My son got an DUI last Friday at 10:40pm. He had 1 glass of wine and 1 beer between 6pm and 10PM. I know, because we worked together on an event in town during that time. He and my assistant got pulled over on their way home to my house, she calls me and ask me to come, and I was there 5 minutes later. My son has a really bad asthma since birth (he is now 22) and almost died 3 times in my arms when he was younger. When I arrived, he is handcuffed and I can see that he have a hard time breathing. I ask him if he has breathing problems and he can hardly speak because of the problems. I told state trooper that he needed his meds, and hi ignored me, I asked him to handcuff him on the front instead of back for his breathing, and he refused. He also said he had .18 in alcohol level, which cannot be accurate. i informed the state trooper that he had a bad asthma , he did not care. I was crying and he told me to leave before he would arrest me too. Do they have the right to refuse medical????


First, your going to have your license suspended for refusing the breath test. They can still prosecute for dui based on the testimony of the officer(s); odor of intoxicants, observations of driving, etc.


I agree with the above answers. I would add that there are two ways of getting convicted of DUI, and two ways to lose your license.

In Washington, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while IMPAIRED by alcohol, or have a Blood Alcohol Content of greater than .08 within two hours of operating a vehicle.

The roadside gymnastics (I like this description) are geared to show that you were impaired. There's nothing remotely scientific about them. Studies show that about one in three sober people show clues of impairment during the Field Sobriety Tests. Nonetheless, your performance during the tests, according to the cop, can be used to convict you under the IMPAIRED prong. That means that even if you blow under .08, you could still be convicted of DUI.

The other way of convicting you of DUI is under the "per se" prong. This means that if you blew higher than .08, you were drunk under the law.

If this is a first offense, and you blew back at the station, you are looking at between 1-2 days in jail, or 15-30 days EHM, Mandatory license suspension, Ignition Interlock Device, fines, an alcohol evaluation and follow-up treatment, Victim Impact Panel, and probation.

If you refused to blow at the station, the above punishment goes up.

As discussed above, you will lose your license if convicted of DUI. Sadly, you can lose your license even if you're not convicted of DUI.

You generally have to request a Department Of Licensing hearing within 20 days of your DUI arrest, or you automatically lose your license. The DOL hearing is a miniature trial where the State only has to prove that you were probably properly arrested for DUI and were impaired/drunk at the time of arrest.

DUI is a complicated area of the law. You need to sit down with an attorney and discuss your case. Good luck.