What Is Refusal?
Under Virginia’s Implied Consent Laws, every person who operates a motor vehicle on a highway in the Commonwealth has legally already agreed to take a breath or blood test if they are arrested for DUI/DWI. §18.2-268.2. If a person then breaks that agreement by unreasonably refusing to provide a breath or blood sample, they are charged with Refusal. Though first offense Refusal is a civil rather than criminal offense, the punishment is a one-year license suspension. A restricted license can be issued by the court after the first 30 days of that suspension. These suspensions are in addition to any suspension that happens as a result of a DUI/DWI conviction. Second or subsequent Refusal convictions (involving breath samples) are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail, a $2,500.00 fine, and in all cases result in a 3-year license revocation.
It is important to note that implied consent only applies to operating a motor vehicle on a “highway of the Commonwealth.” While it is true that this is not limited just to state-maintained roads, it does not extend to every place a motor vehicle can be driven. Many parking lots or other privately owned locations are not “highway(s) of the Commonwealth” and there is no requirement to provide a breath or blood sample for operating a motor vehicle there.