​What Happens if I Take Breath and Blood Tests after a DUI? What Happens if I Don’t?

Published On: December 16, 2022By

When a driver gets behind the wheel of a car, they impliedly consent to undergo a breath or chemical test if a police officer arrests them for driving under the influence (DUI). That test aims to determine the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Moreover, for a police officer to validly stop your vehicle, they must have probable cause to believe that you operated a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Arrested drivers might have the option to choose between a blood test or a breath test. If neither type of test is available, then the law requires that they provide a urine sample.

When a police officer places a driver under arrest for DUI, they must notify the driver of their right to the presence of legal counsel during any questioning. This right against self-incrimination comes from the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In addition to apprising the driver of their legal rights, the arresting officer must explain what can happen to the driver if they refuse to take a test. Those potential consequences include high monetary fines, jail time, and loss of their driver’s license if the state prosecutor obtains a conviction against them in court.

Although the driver has a right to the presence of legal counsel during police questioning, they do not have a right to talk with a DUI defense lawyer before submitting to the breath or blood test. Finally, if the driver refuses to take a test, the state prosecutor may use that refusal against the driver in court. If the driver does take the test and it shows that the driver is intoxicated the state prosecutor can also use that information in court to prove the legal elements of their case.

If you are currently pending criminal DUI charges, you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you as soon as possible in your case. Your lawyer can first meet with you to discuss your criminal charge and the circumstances surrounding your arrest.

Your DUI lawyer can help you develop a plan for moving forward with your case, including formulating a potential legal defense to use in court. Finally, your lawyer can represent you at all criminal court proceedings, protect your legal rights, advocate for your interests, and help you achieve the best possible result in your case.

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What Is a DUI?

DUI stands for driving under the influence of alcohol. A passenger vehicle driver is legally intoxicated if they have a BAC of at least 0.08 percent. However, the legal limit for minor drivers who are under 21 years of age is much lower.

Pre-Arrest Testing and Implied Consent Laws

In most situations, drivers do not need to undergo chemical testing at any time before a police officer arrests them for DUI. However, in some situations, an officer might ask the driver to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening or PAS test.

With a PAS, the police officer uses a handheld Breathalyzer device to administer the test. The only individuals who must submit to a PAS test are drivers who are currently on probation for DUI and drivers who are under 21 years of age. When a Breathalyzer device shows that the driver is over the legal limit, that may be sufficient evidence for the officer to arrest the driver for DUI.

What Happens if You Refuse to Take a Breath or Blood Test?

What Happens if I Take Breath and Blood Tests after a DUI? What Happens if I Don’t?

The consequences of refusing to take a breath or blood test can be severe. First, a test refusal can result in a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. You may be subject to a two-year license suspension if it’s a second refusal. The same holds true if you have a DUI or reckless driving conviction on your record for the past ten years.

Finally, a third test refusal or more than one DUI or reckless driving conviction on your record from the past ten years can lead to a three-year driver’s license suspension. Regardless of how many times you refused a breath or blood test, the court can impose a $125 monetary fine against you.

Is Refusing to Take a Breath or Blood Test a Good Idea?

The choice to take or refuse a breath or blood test depends on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. If you refuse to take the test, you can still get a DUI conviction, which will appear on your permanent record. Even if the state prosecutor does not introduce your BAC test results, a judge or jury can still find you guilty and convict you of DUI. In fact, at your criminal court trial, the prosecutor will likely argue that your refusal to submit to testing demonstrates that you knew you were intoxicated.

Who Has the Legal Burden of Proof in a Criminal DUI Case?

In every criminal DUI case, the state prosecutor has the legal burden of proof. Therefore, they must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. To prove their case, the prosecutor can submit breath or blood test results into evidence and have the police officer authenticate the test results in court.

On the other hand, the defendant driver does not need to prove anything in a DUI case. Moreover, the driver does not need to take the witness stand at trial or testify in their own defense.

What Are the Potential Penalties for a Criminal DUI Conviction?

For a driver to incur penalties in a criminal DUI case, the state prosecutor must first obtain a conviction against them. They do this by proving all of the legal elements of their case. If they fail to prove even one legal element, the DUI case may be subject to a complete dismissal, and the defendant driver will not receive any penalties.

If the defendant driver does sustain a conviction, a sentencing judge will be the one to impose the legal penalty or penalties. Judges determine these penalties according to statutory minimums and maximums, as well as the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

Some factors that judges use when setting penalties in a DUI case include the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system, the number of prior DUI offenses the driver has on their record, the driver’s overall criminal history, and whether or not the driver caused an accident that resulted in property damage or personal injuries.

Potential legal and administrative penalties upon conviction for DUI may include jail time, monetary fines, driver’s license suspension, court-imposed community service, probation, and court-ordered drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

A driver may also need to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle. The driver must then blow into this portable Breathalyzer device to start the car. If the device detects any alcohol in the driver’s system at that time, it will not allow the vehicle to start.

Obviously, the best way to avoid these penalties is to avoid a DUI arrest and conviction in the first place. However, if you ultimately sustain a conviction, a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer in your area can represent you at your sentencing hearing and argue for a fair penalty on your behalf. Your lawyer can highlight the positive aspects of your case, such as a clean criminal record, and help you obtain the best possible result.

Are There Any Defenses to a Criminal DUI Charge?

Drivers who are pending criminal DUI charges might raise one or more legal defenses at their trial. If the defense is successful, the prosecutor might not prove their case, resulting in a complete dismissal of your DUI charge.

The defenses that a driver might assert in court depend on the circumstances of their arrest and other factors. First, the driver might allege that the breath or blood test was inaccurate. For example, the police officer might have made a mistake when administering the test. Alternatively, the Breathalyzer machine may have malfunctioned, providing an inaccurate reading.

In addition, you might allege constitutional violations to obtain a DUI charge dismissal. In particular, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals against unwarranted and unreasonable searches and seizures. If a police officer makes a random traffic stop without having the necessary reasonable suspicion, then any DUI evidence the officer later obtains may be subject to suppression at trial.

Moreover, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals against self-incrimination.

When a police officer puts a driver under arrest for DUI, they must apprise the driver of their legal right to the presence of counsel during any questioning. If the driver asserts their right to counsel, but the officer continues to question them and obtains an incriminating statement, that statement may be subject to suppression at trial.

Finally, if a police officer administered one or more field sobriety tests, like the heel-to-toe test or horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the driver may allege that they have a medical condition that affected their balance or coordination. Alternatively, they may argue that their vision or weather conditions impaired their field sobriety test performance.

If you are currently pending a DUI charge, a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in your area can determine if you’re eligible to raise any of these legal defenses at your trial. If so, your lawyer will aggressively advance the appropriate defense in court and pursue a complete dismissal of your criminal DUI charge.

How Does a Plea Deal Work in a Criminal DUI Case?

Criminal trials are not the only way of resolving a DUI case. In some instances, a state prosecutor might place a plea deal on the table. Plea deals are effective “settlements” in criminal cases, and a prosecutor might place a deal on the table if they are not confident they can obtain a conviction against the driver in court.

When a state prosecutor offers the defendant driver a plea deal, they usually make some concession, such as a charge reduction or a term of probation, in exchange for the defendant driver pleading guilty. For example, to encourage a defendant driver to accept the deal, a prosecutor might reduce the charge from DUI down to reckless driving, which is a lesser offense.

As part of a plea deal, the state prosecutor may also offer the defendant driver a term of probation. If the driver completes all of the probationary terms, they can avoid the black mark of a criminal conviction on their record.

Plea deals have several advantages. First, they avoid the uncertainty of a criminal trial and provide a guaranteed outcome. It is a good idea to accept a plea deal if the prosecution has strong evidence in the case. However, plea deals also have several disadvantages. When a defendant driver accepts a plea deal, they automatically give up their rights to a criminal jury trial, as well as their right to appeal.

A knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer in your area can help you decide whether you should accept a plea deal or take your case to trial.

Call an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney Near You Today

If you are currently pending a criminal DUI charge, it is vitally important that you retain an experienced DUI defense attorney to represent you as soon as possible. Generally speaking, the sooner you involve an experienced attorney, the better your chances of securing a favorable result in your DUI case.

While your case is pending, your lawyer can safeguard your legal rights and ensure they remain protected at all times. They might explore plea deal options with the state prosecutor handling your claim.

At a criminal court trial, your lawyer can aggressively assert a strong legal defense on your behalf and pursue a dismissal of your DUI case. If that does not happen, your lawyer can represent you at your sentencing hearing and help you obtain a fair penalty.

No matter what path your DUI case takes, you need the right defense representation from the start.

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