Understanding DUI Testing

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or other substances is one of the most serious driving-related crimes you can commit. Law enforcement has cracked down on DUIs in an effort to make the roads safer and prevent loss of life. If you are suspected of driving while intoxicated and are pulled over, there are a few different things that may happen next.

Receiving a Breath Test

One of the easiest and most common ways to determine if someone is inebriated is to administer a blood alcohol content (BAC) test, often in the form of a breathalyzer test. Breathalyzers measure BAC indirectly by measuring the amount of alcohol in your breath. Because this measurement is indirect, the handheld breathalyzer tests are not reliable enough to provide evidence in court, but are convenient enough to be used by officers while on patrol, and are accurate enough to justify an arrest. If you are pulled over on the suspicion that you are driving while inebriated, it is considered a crime to refuse a breathalyzer test; depending on where you are driving, penalties for this refusal range from fines and license suspension to jail time.

Chemical Tests 

The more accurate way to determine a driver’s blood-alcohol level is through a blood test. Blood and urine tests are more time consuming and considered much more invasive, so they are not administered as frequently as simple breath tests. Because they are considered more invasive, the Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that laws criminalizing the refusal to submit to chemical tests in the event of a DUI are unconstitutional. This means that an officer cannot force or threaten you to undergo blood or urine testing, especially prior to arrest. However, this ruling has some grey area and refusing chemical testing, while technically within a driver’s constitutional rights, may not be the best idea.

Implied Consent Laws

While the Supreme Court ruled mandatory blood tests unconstitutional, most states have laws that penalize refusing to submit to chemical testing. The term “implied consent” means that by driving on the road, a driver implicitly agrees to uphold the law and to submit to testing if they are driving under the influence. Depending on your state, refusing to do so can result in administrative penalties like fines. Additionally, the Court ruled that if a driver is unconscious, or if a breath test cannot be administered, then an officer can take a blood test without a warrant.

Ultimately, complying with officers’ demands is the best thing to do when stopped for a DUI. If they demand a breath test, refusing will only make things worse. 

Do not hesitate to set up a consultation with a criminal justice lawyer, like the ones at May Law, LLP, as soon as possible. The sooner that you begin the process, the more time you will have to build a solid case.