If you're pulled over by law enforcement on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the decision as to whether to agree to submit to a Breathalyzer or blood test is sometimes complicated. Implied consent laws and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) testing vary from state to state.
Generally, as a condition of obtaining a driver's license, you have to consent in advance to either a blood, Breathalyzer, or urine test if an officer makes a request of you. The penalty for refusal, though, is sometimes less than that of a drunk driving conviction. That means refusal might be a better choice at times. There are many factors to consider when making such a determination.
This article discusses factors to consider when deciding whether to consent to a breath or blood test to determine your impairment. First, the article addresses the amount of alcohol consumed. Next, the article discusses forced blood draws and other evidence.
Amount of Alcohol Consumed
Your BAC will vary based on many factors. These factors include:
- The amount of alcohol consumed
- Your gender
- Your body type
- How much time has passed since you consumed alcohol
If you're reasonably sure you're sober, submitting to a test will likely end the ordeal quickly. On the other hand, if you think you're highly intoxicated and above the federal legal limit of 0.08, which is on average four to five drinks, your best bet might be to refuse testing and accept the punishment for refusal. The consequence is typically an automatic license suspension.
Forced Blood Draws
In some states, including Ohio and Texas, the decision to submit to testing can be taken out of your hands with the practice of forced blood draws by police officers. In extreme cases, officers can hold you down and draw your blood by force. Although this rarely happens, it can if you're involved in a serious motor vehicle accident and subsequently refuse to submit to a BAC test.
Whether or not forced blood draws are an option depends on your particular state. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that a warrant is required.
The constitutionality of forced blood draws was briefly addressed by the Supreme Court in 1966. The court ruled the process constitutional under certain exigent circumstances. However, laws regarding forced blood draws are controversial and in flux within the courts.
Other Evidence Supporting Your DUI Arrest
The decision regarding whether to submit to a BAC test isn't made in a vacuum. You have to consider any other evidence against you, too. That evidence can include failed field sobriety tests or poor driving.
If an officer already has other evidence, and your state allows authorities to use your refusal as further evidence of guilt, the penalty for refusal could be tacked on to the penalty for the DUI charges. This results in double penalties. In contrast, if you're pulled over and an officer smells alcohol and asks you to take a BAC test, your refusal alone may not be enough to convict you.
Ultimately, there are only a few circumstances in which a refusal is a better idea than taking a BAC test required by law. Your task is to weigh your estimated blood alcohol content, local laws, and the evidence against you in determining whether to refuse a BAC test. Ultimately, the best course of action is not ingesting any impairing substances before driving.
Should You Take a Blood or Breathalyzer Test? Get Legal Advice From a Criminal Defense Attorney
Whether you choose a breath test or blood test, it's essential to understand the repercussions of a DUI conviction in your state. While your driver's license may be suspended if you refuse a chemical test, there may be good reasons to decline such a test. Learn more by speaking with a DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer can help you better understand DUI laws and ensure you get the best possible outcome for your DUI case.