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Can Pennsylvania police arrest for refusing roadside DUI test?

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2024 | Driving Offenses

Long ago, people were generally more inclined to do whatever figures of authority might tell them to do. For example, if a doctor were to tell a patient to take a pill, the patient would take it, perhaps without even researching possible side effects or discussing the matter further. Similarly, many people believed that they must immediately obey anything a Pennsylvania police officer might tell them to do, especially during a traffic stop. Today, many people are more proactive in protecting their own interests and defending their rights. Even so, some people still do not know their rights, so they may need help to defend them. Take roadside DUI tests, for instance — they are not obligatory, but many people don’t know that.

If a Pennsylvania police officer suspects someone of drunk driving, a traffic stop may occur, and the driver is instructed to step out of the vehicle. At some point, the officer might ask the individual to take one or more roadside DUI tests, such as a breath test or field sobriety test. Many people have been told that a police officer can arrest them if they refuse to take these tests.

Roadside DUI tests are not obligatory in Pennsylvania

Police must establish probable cause to make a DUI arrest. If a person takes a breath test or field sobriety test during a traffic stop and fails, this constitutes probable cause. No one is obligated to take these tests, however. There are no administrative or legal penalties for refusing. If a police officer takes someone into custody based on their refusal to take a roadside DUI test, it is unlawful arrest.

Remember that refusing a roadside DUI test is not the same as refusing a post-arrest chemical Breathalyzer, blood or urine test. These tests fall under implied consent rules and refusing to take them incurs an automatic driver’s license suspension. Seeking criminal defense support is the best step to take when facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania or questioning whether a traffic stop or arrest was lawful.