A driver who has been detained by the police on the suspicion of operating under the influence (“DUI”) of alcohol or drugs must submit to a chemical test under the Implied Consent provisions of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. Refusal to do so, of itself, will result in an automatic suspension of at least 12 months (or as long as 18 months if the driver has previously refused the test).
If you are stopped, and the arresting officer asks you to submit to the test, he or she must explain your rights and obligations under the Implied Consent provisions of the Code; these warnings are set forth in the Bureau of Driver Licensing’s Form DL-26. In two recent challenges to the process of suspension on the basis that Form DL-26 is ambiguous, the Superior Court has ruled that the form is not ambiguous, and in both cases the drivers’ suspensions were upheld.
The moral of the story is quite clear: When you are pulled over for a traffic violation or are involved in an accident, and an officer on the scene asks you to submit to a test, cooperate and submit to the test. Often the circumstances are confusing and disorienting, especially when a serious collision is involved or if it is a cold, rainy night. You may be distracted and unable to focus on what the officer is saying. Our recommendation is that you do your best to collect yourself and do not challenge the officer; cooperate.
Whether you are operating under the influence (or not) is totally irrelevant. Just the fact that you refused the request will cause the suspension. Of course, the good news in all of this is that if you were not operating under the influence, the test should exonerate you.
– Ken Butera