It is illegal, anywhere in Virginia, to be intoxicated and driving, whether you’re on public property or private property. However, the law only requires you to take a breath test or a blood test, if you are on “the highways of the Commonwealth.”
What Are The Highways of the Commonwealth?
The highways of the Commonwealth is a term of legal art that means roads. If you’re driving anywhere on the roads of the Commonwealth, you are required to take a blood or breath test at the request of the police officer. However, it does not include private parking lots or private driveways.
It is a pretty common occurrence at bars and nightclubs that a police officer will sit there in a police cruiser and watch who gets in their car and then they follow you. The smart police officers wait until you get onto the public road, one of the highways of the Commonwealth, and then they stop you.
If I’m Not Stopped On A Highway Of The Commonwealth, Do I Have To Take Any Tests?
Frequently, people are stopped in a 7-Eleven parking lot, or the parking lot of the bar or nightclub. When that happens, you are not required to take a blood or breath test. In fact, you are absolutely within your rights to refuse any blood and breath tests.
Of course, anywhere in Virginia, you should refuse the field sobriety test and the handheld breath test that occur after arrest back at the police station. If you were stopped in your own driveway, in a 7-Eleven parking lot, or the parking lot of the bar, just remember, “Officer, this is not a highway of the Commonwealth. I don’t have to take your test.”
If you have any questions about highways of the Commonwealth or DUI on private property, give my office a call.