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Does DUI blood-alcohol test refusal fee violate USSC ruling?

Most Pennsylvania residents are already aware that they face a driver's license suspension if they refuse to take a breath test during a traffic stop if a police officer suspects impairment. What they may not yet be aware of is that beginning on Jan. 11 the state intends to institute a pretty hefty fee for those convicted of DUI who refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test. One issue that may arise because of this new law is that it could violate a ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In 2016, the country's highest court ruled that law enforcement officials must have a search warrant or consent in order to conduct a blood-alcohol test. Under the ruling, officials are not allowed to impose, or threaten to impose, criminal penalties on someone who refused to give consent. Pennsylvania's new law may violate this ruling since it may end up imposing a criminal penalty for refusing the test.

The law provides that anyone convicted of DUI who refuses to consent to a blood-alcohol test must pay a restoration fee. The first time someone refused to consent, it will cost $500, the second time will cost $1,000, and each subsequent refusal would cost $2,000. Prior to this new law, the fee was $70 to restore a driver's license.

It could be some time before this new law gets tested in the courts. In the meantime, individuals stopped on suspicion of DUI will continue to have to decide for themselves whether the risk of taking, or not taking, the test would be in their best interest. One thing may be for sure, the necessity of quickly enlisting the aid of legal counsel after such an arrest only seems to be increasing.

Source: triblive.com, "Trib editorial: Pa.'s DUI fee poses potential conflict with Supreme Court ruling", Jan. 6, 2018

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