DUI & Refusal in Pennsylvania

            Many drivers in Pennsylvania are not aware of the Implied Consent Law applicable to them every time they get behind the wheel. The Implied Consent Law states that each and every person who drives, operates or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania is deemed to have given his or her consent to the withdrawal of a sample of breath, blood or urine at the request of a police officer if that person is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). [1]

Drivers frequently ask; “What if I refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer or blood/urine test?” The answer is not simple.  While a driver has a statutory right to refuse[2], the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (Penn DOT) has the power to impose a one-year license suspension for exercising that right.[3]

A driver’s appeal of a refusal suspension is heard de novo by the common pleas court with the Department of Transportation having the initial burden of proof. In order to make out a prima facie case to support a one-year suspension imposed under 75 Pa.C.S. §1547(b)(1), the Department of Transportation must establish four elements:

  1. That the driver was arrested for a violation of 75 Pa.C.S. §3802(a) by a police officer who had reasonable grounds to believe that the driver had driven, operated or was in actual physical control of the movement of a motor vehicle while the driver was under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
  2. That the driver was asked to submit to a chemical test;
  3. That the driver refused to submit to chemical testing; and that the police officer fulfilled the duty imposed upon the officer by 75 Pa.C.S. §1547(b)(2);
  4. And warned the driver of the consequences of refusing chemical testing, i.e., the suspension of the driver’s operating privilege.

These circumstances may seem straightforward but navigating the court system is very difficult without an experienced lawyer.  There are many constitutional and statutory issues that may arise without the driver even realizing action must be taken.  The DUI & Refusal laws in Pennsylvania are strict and must be taken seriously. Delta Law Group can help you throughout this difficult and trying process. Do not delay, call today for a free consultation.


[1] 75 Pa.C.S. §1547(a)


[2] Com. v. Eisenhart, 611 A.2d 681 (1992)


[3] 75 Pa.C.S. §1547(b)(1)