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What Are “Reasonable Grounds” to Compel Chemical Testing for DUI in PA?

Pennsylvania has an implied consent law. Anyone who drives on the commonwealth’s roads has already consented to a blood, urine or breath test to determine the driver’s blood alcohol content level or the presence of controlled substances. But that’s only true when reasonable grounds exist. If the police have reasonable grounds to compel a test, and you refuse to take it, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) suspends your license for at least one year, regardless of the outcome of your DUI case.

But what are “reasonable grounds” for DUI? More than mere suspicion, reasonable grounds means the conclusion a reasonable person would reach that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, a conclusion an officer can only reach after observing enough clues in the driver’s behavior.

Reasonable grounds for chemical testing only exist after an arrest

The law does not permit chemical testing to determine if reasonable grounds for an arrest exist. Police may only use the test to gather evidence after an arrest. If the police arrest you, you will be asked to submit to the test. But your Reading DUI attorney may be able to exclude evidence from that test if reasonable grounds for the arrest did not exist.

Police use traffic stops to determine if reasonable grounds for an arrest exist

If a police officer stops you, the officer may already have reasonable grounds — you were weaving through traffic, straddling a lane, etc. — for an arrest. In that case, engaging with the officer is not going to help you. However, it’s possible the officer is only operating on suspicion. Through questioning and having you perform field sobriety tests, the officer attempts to elicit information that establishes reasonable grounds. So, be polite and respectfully decline to answer questions or perform the field sobriety tests. This forces the officer to either let you go or make an arrest on mere suspicion — an arrest that may not hold up in court.

If you are arrested, call your Reading DUI attorney for representation.

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