Generally, a person that refuses a chemical test may face two suspensions, a civil suspension solely based on refusing the test, and possibly a second suspension for criminal DUI charges. Generally, the civil, administrative suspension for a chemical test refusal is 12 months. However, the suspension length is increased to 18 months if the person had a prior suspension for refusing a chemical test, or if the person has been sentenced in the past for a prior DUI in Pennsylvania or an equivalent DUI offense in another state.
With regard to the criminal DUI charges, if the person is convicted or participates in ARD, there is likely to be a second suspension of Pennsylvania driving privileges. If the person participated in the ARD program for DUI charges, then the suspension is likely to be 60 days because the refusal normally places the case in the third or highest tier of DUI penalties. If the person is convicted of DUI and this is a first offense, the person faces a 12-month suspension for third tier penalties. If the person has a prior offense of DUI, then the suspension is increased to 18 months for third tier DUI penalties.
It must be noted that the suspensions discussed for the criminal charges are based upon the assumption that the court is imposing third tier penalties. There are some rare situations in which a DUI-refusal case does NOT receive third tier penalties, in which case the license suspension discussed above may need to be modified. Third tier penalties can sometimes be avoided through an agreement with the prosecutor or if the prosecutor fails to present sufficient evidence of the refusal at trial.