Q: What happens if I refuse to take a breath test during a traffic stop? Can the officer force me to? Will my punishment be greater for refusing the test?
A:This question asks specifically about "during a traffic stop." This is a technical distinction, because if the officer arrests you and then asks you to take a breath test, that would be "after the traffic stop," and the answer would be different. (If there is an arrest, then Refusal is a separate charge.)
For the test on the side of the highway during a stop, it is not mandatory, and the officers should tell the client that it is not mandatory. It is a judgment call for the client, but all too often the client has been drinking and doesn't make the best decision.
There are additional mandatory punishments for a refusal charge. Folks should read my blog about "the Refusal Dilemma."
For a 2nd Refusal, or for a 1st Refusal after a previous DWI conviction in Virginia, it is considered "2nd Offense" and it will be treated as a criminal charge with an additional 3 year suspension of license in Virginia.