What You Need to Know about Blood-Alcohol Tests
If you are arrested for DUI, you will probably be required to take a blood-alcohol test. Three different methods exist to measure your blood alcohol: a blood test, a breath test and a urine test. Most states require a breath test to be administered (see What You Need to Know about Breathalyzers), but may also offer you the option of taking a blood or urine test.
All three tests are prone to inaccuracy, but blood tests tend to be the most accurate. Inaccuracies in blood-alcohol tests arise when equipment is not properly used or sanitized or when samples get mixed up. There are a number of potential flaws with blood-alcohol tests, and an experienced criminal defense attorney should be familiar with the vulnerabilities of each testing method.
Refusal to take a blood-alcohol test may result in a suspension of your license and the possibility of points being added to your driving record—even if you are ultimately acquitted of all DUI charges. Most states have implied consent laws. This means that by virtue of holding a license to drive motor vehicles on public roads, you agree to take tests to determine your blood alcohol if you are arrested on a DUI charge.
An officer must inform you of the consequences of not submitting to a blood-alcohol test. If an officer fails to tell you that you will lose your license for failing to take a blood-alcohol test, you may contest the suspension of your license. A criminal defense attorney should be able to advise you further on this matter and help you determine if challenging the suspension is in your best interest.
When you submit to a blood alcohol test, it is important to have two samples taken: one for the police to run their tests on and one for independent testing. While this may not render a significant difference in the final outcome, it may be worthwhile to have a second opinion on your blood alcohol level in close cases.
It is possible to have the results of your blood-alcohol tests excluded from evidence at your trial if it was not collected or handled properly. For example, if your blood-alcohol test was not administered within two hours from the time you were last driving, it may not be admissible in court. Another possibility for the exclusion of blood-alcohol test results is if there was not probable cause to pull you over in the first place; that is, if you did not commit a traffic violation or if there was no reasonable cause to stop you (see Things to Know about Drunk Driving). A criminal defense attorney with experience handling DUI cases should be familiar with the protocol for blood-alcohol tests and be able to determine if yours was administered correctly.
As with any criminal charges that you may face, it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your DUI arrest. An experienced attorney should be able to help you fight the charges you face with intimate knowledge of drunk driving laws.