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Expect Higher Costs for Refusing a Breathalyzer Test in 2018

Senate Bill 533 officially took effect January 11. The law mandates certain changes to some of Pennsylvania’s driving under the influence (DUI) laws, including a new fee for people who refuse to submit to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test.

These changes come in the wake of a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision that police cannot obtain blood samples without consent or a valid warrant. In the revised law, any driver who refuses to take a BAC test, but is then convicted and loses his or her license, must pay a “restoration fee” for the license of up to $2,000 — $500 for a first refusal, $1,000 for a second refusal and $2,000 for a third and subsequent refusal.

As a result, there are now more financial incentives for people who have been pulled over to submit to the BAC test if asked to do so.

Getting around the Supreme Court decision

Ultimately, these new civil fees were implemented as a way for police officers to get around the decision the Supreme Court issued in 2016. Although the state does not have any criminal penalties for refusing a blood test, the potential financial penalties are now much greater than in years past.

Previously, the fee to get a license back after a DUI offense was $70. Opponents of the new law argue that when added to the other fines and court costs, the new restoration fees will make it harder for poor and working-class people to get their driving privileges restored. Proponents, meanwhile, believe it will serve as a deterrent to prevent individuals from driving while intoxicated.

For more information on the new restoration fees, consult skilled Reading DUI defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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