Driving on Virginia’s roads can take you to sunny ocean beaches or into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The highways and byways of the Commonwealth promise a wealth of beautiful scenery, fun days of adventure, and even a few urban choices for the movers and shakers among us. Whether you’re a road-tripper or a daily commuter, keeping these roads safe from drunk drivers is important, which is why Virginia has “implied consent” laws for suspected drunk drivers.
Dealing with intoxicated people isn’t easy for anyone. Much of the time, if you ask someone if they’re drunk, the answer will be a “no.” A person who is drunk usually says they’re not for two reasons: they’re lying or they don’t realize how intoxicated they are. In Virginia, the “implied consent” begins the moment you’re granted a driver’s license. Because a police officer’s job isn’t to trust your potentially intoxicated answer during a traffic stop, he or she is allowed to administer a breathalyzer test in order to determine your level of sobriety. Since you have a driver’s license in Virginia, you essentially have given that officer permission to test your breath and/or blood, and if you refuse during a traffic stop, you can be arrested.
More than likely if you refuse a breath test before being arrested, that refusal will be enough probable cause for your detainment and subsequent testing. If you are placed under arrest, you no longer have any right to refuse a blood or breath test. In other words, with implied consent laws, if you refuse a breath test during a traffic stop, you’re probably going to jail. Then you’ll be given the very same test you could have taken long before you ended up at the police station. If you’re legally intoxicated, you’re going to face much more than a night in jail, including a car breathalyzer requirement and more.
Virginia’s implied consent laws are an extension of trust in our sobriety. Since we’ve already agreed to have our blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tested if we’re suspected of drinking and driving, we all know better than to get behind the wheel after drinking. By breaking that trust and taking chances while driving drunk, you are choosing to endanger others on Virginia’s roads, and none of us consented to that.