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Know Your Rights: BAC Tests in Virginia

At Robinson Law, PLLC, we too often hear that our clients don’t know their rights when they are pulled over by law enforcement on the road. As we have articulated in previous blog posts, a person is legally considered to be operating under the influence of alcohol if that person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher. What are a driver’s rights, though, between the initiation of the traffic stop and the BAC test? If you are a driver in Virginia, you should be well versed in your rights on the road.

When Can An Officer Ask You to Perform a BAC Test?

If a police officer ever stops you on the road and tells you they need a reading of your BAC, that officer must have what is called “probable cause” to suspect that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If, for example, the officer has seen your car swerving or has noticed that your words are not making sense, that officer might have probable cause to conduct a breathalyzer test. Without any probable cause, the officer cannot legally conduct this kind of test.

If you have either been arrested for a DUI or under suspicion of a DUI, the officer can legally require you to perform a BAC test. This means that by driving on Virginia roads, you are offering your implied consent to be tested for alcohol when you are arrested for suspicion of driving while impaired. The important takeaway is that as long as you have not given the police officer reason to think you are driving under the influence, the officer has no right to test you, either through a breathalyzer or a sobriety test (i.e., asking you to walk in a straight line).

Breathalyzers are not the only form of tests that officers use; law enforcement might also ask you to travel to a different location for a urine test or blood test. The results of any of these tests can be used against you in court, so it is important to know that without probable cause, you do have the right to refuse these tests.

What Should You Do If An Officer Pulls You Over?

If you find yourself in a situation where a police officer is insisting that you perform a BAC test, it is best for you to remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in court. Staying silent is your best option. You should also immediately contact an attorney, who can come to your aid and ensure that officers are not taking advantage of your rights.

It is also important to make sure you do not give officers probable cause to test you in the first place. By staying off the road when you have consumed alcohol or drugs, you can not only keep Virginia’s roads safe, but you can also protect yourself against these intimidating police practices.

Have You Been Charged with a DUI in Virginia?

If you are facing DUI charges in Virginia, call us at Robinson Law, PLLC. We are experts in criminal defense law, and we are prepared to offer you the best representation for your individualized needs. For your free and confidential consultation, call us at (703) 844-3746.

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