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

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

Getting arrested for DUI can be scary. The police officer might ask you to take a breath or blood test to check your blood alcohol level. You might wonder – what happens if I take the test? What if I say no? This article will walk you through what to expect with breath and blood tests after a DUI stop.

Breath Tests

If the officer suspects you’re under the influence, they’ll probably ask you to blow into a breathalyzer. This estimates your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) by analyzing your breath.

Every state has what’s called “implied consent” laws. This means that by driving, you automatically consent to take a breath test if an officer asks. Refusing often leads to penalties like fines or license suspension. That’s why in most cases, it’s best to take the test.

Still, breath test results aren’t perfect evidence. Testing errors occasionally happen, and lawyers can often fight the accuracy in court. Factors like burping or acid reflux can also throw off your BAC reading. So there are cases where refusing the breath test helps.

If you do take the breath test, here’s what happens next:

  • The officer has you blow into the breathalyzer tube for several seconds.
  • The device estimates your BAC based on the alcohol levels in your breath.
  • In most states, a BAC of 0.08% or higher means you’re legally impaired and can be charged with DUI.
  • The officer will likely arrest you if your BAC is at or above the legal limit.
  • The breath test results will be used as evidence in your DUI case.

So in summary – taking the breath test gives police solid proof of your impairment if you fail it. That makes fighting the charges more difficult later on. But refusing the test has consequences too, under implied consent laws. There’s usually no perfect option, just pros and cons to weigh.

Blood Tests

Police might also ask you to take a blood test after a DUI stop. They can only force this with a warrant or if you give consent. Still, same as with breath tests, most states impose penalties if you refuse the blood test when asked.

Unlike breath tests, blood tests directly measure your actual blood alcohol level. This makes them more accurate evidence of impairment. But blood tests have their own downsides too:

  • Needle phobia or medical issues may make blood draws difficult for some drivers.
  • Poor vein access occasionally prevents collecting a usable sample.
  • You have to be taken to a facility for the blood draw, extending the process.
  • Some contamination or testing errors are possible, though rare.

If you do take the blood test, here’s the basic process:

  • The officer takes you to an approved facility, like a hospital or police station.
  • A technician sterilizes your arm and draws a vial of blood.
  • The blood gets tested at a lab, usually for BAC.
  • Results showing a BAC of 0.08% or more lead to DUI charges if driving was also impaired.
  • The blood test results get submitted as evidence in your DUI case.

In most states, refusing the blood test leads to some type of penalty. For example, automatic license suspension for 12 months, or a fine of a few hundred dollars. That’s why many drivers end up taking the test, even though it provides solid evidence if failed.

What Happens if I Refuse the Tests?

You do have the right to refuse both breath and blood testing, with some exceptions. But there are consequences if you turn down the tests – usually civil penalties like fines or license suspension. For example:

  • In California, refusing the test brings a 1-year license suspension.
  • Florida suspends your license for 1 year for first refusals, and 18 months for repeat refusals.
  • In Texas, refusal leads to a 180-day license suspension if you have no prior DWIs, up to 2 years if you have a recent prior DWI.

These civil penalties are separate from the criminal DUI charges. Getting convicted of DUI after refusing testing can still lead to fines, jail time, an ignition interlock, and license suspension.

Why do states punish test refusal? It removes key evidence of DUI that makes convictions easier. That’s why implied consent laws try to incentivize taking the tests. Still, refusing may help in some cases, like if the machine seems unreliable.

An attorney can advise when refusing testing might be beneficial after weighing the risks. It depends on factors like your state laws, driving record, and how strong the other evidence is.

Should I Refuse Field Sobriety Tests?

Refusing the roadside field sobriety tests (like walking a straight line) is different from refusing formal breath or blood testing.

You have the legal right to refuse field sobriety tests in most states. There are no civil penalties for refusing them. However, it gives the officer suspicion to legally arrest you for DUI. They can then request the breath/blood tests which do have penalties for refusal in most states.

So refusing the roadside tests might buy you some time and avoid incriminating yourself. But it also almost guarantees the officer will arrest you and request formal BAC testing. At that point, you need to decide whether to take the breath/blood tests.

Should I Get a DUI Lawyer If I Took the Tests?

Yes, absolutely consult a DUI attorney if you took the breath or blood tests and failed them. A lawyer can help by:

  • Looking for procedural errors or problems with how the tests were administered.
  • Questioning the accuracy and reliability of the results.
  • Raising reasonable doubt by noting conditions like acid reflux that could affect results.
  • Negotiating with the prosecutor for reduced charges or penalties.
  • Building defenses to fight the DUI charges.

While failing a chemical test makes your case tougher, an experienced DUI lawyer can still fight to get charges lowered or dismissed. Be sure to get legal help.

The Bottom Line

Breath and blood tests provide solid evidence of DUI, making refusal tempting. But there are penalties in most states for refusing, so take that into account. An attorney can advise if refusing might be beneficial in your specific case.

If you took and failed the tests, a DUI lawyer can still help defend your charges and minimize penalties. Don’t go it alone. Consult an attorney to explore all your options after breath or blood testing.