On a daily basis, nearly 30 individuals in America are killed in car accidents involving an intoxicated driver. The NHTSA defines an impaired driver as someone who has operated their vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 grams of alcohol (or more) per deciliter of blood in his or her body. While rates have gone down historically, impaired driving accidents still take upwards of 10,000 lives annually.
Drivers who decline the breath test create a challenge for law enforcement officials. Since BAC results are critical to establishing responsibility, individuals who refuse are causing issues for themselves and the police officer.
Obtaining Warrants for Blood Tests Fast
Police in McHenry County are putting a new program into effect that will allow them to draw blood quickly when possible DUI offenders decline breathalyzers. They can do this with new technology, and it’s faster than it ever has been in the past.
The technology is already in effect in nine different departments within the county. Police who suspect DUI will request a warrant for suspects who decline a breath test immediately through video conference with a judge. If approved, the alleged DUI offender is transported to a medical care facility to have their blood tested.
More Accountability for Drivers
Many drivers who get pulled over refuse to take a breath test. The aim for expediting tests in this manner is so that actual offenders can be held accountable and can’t get away so easily. Requesting a warrant on the spot ensures that prosecutors and police officers won’t be taking any wrongful actions themselves.
Possible Burden for Medical Professionals
However, some legal professionals believe that it causes healthcare workers to overstep their boundaries. Since police are making drivers get their blood drawn involuntarily, it forces medical staff members also to have to act as law enforcement.
Challengers of the program assert that it takes things too far since there are already penalties against those who decline the breathalyzer. Plus, crowding the busy emergency rooms and inconveniencing nurses with these tasks would not be the best use of their time. However, another argument in that if the driver was actually intoxicated and a drunk driving accident was prevented, it would be worthwhile.
Penalties for Declining the Breathalyzer
Drivers who turn down the breath test after being pulled over will face countless penalties. Those who refuse a breathalyzer test in Florida will find that there are even more penalties for saying no than taking the test and failing it.
The following legal consequences can occur for those who decline:
- Substantial fines
- Jail sentence
- Vehicle impoundment (automatic)
- Immediate license suspension (maximum of 18 months)
- Additional trouble in future legal matters
Other consequences might include the loss of your job due to your new lack of transportation. Drivers who take the breath test and fail can still work with a DUI lawyer to achieve a better result than completely refusing. Often, refusing the test makes the system view you negatively right away, and it negates legal rights that would have been given to you in court.
In just one year, 25% of drivers pulled over for DUI refused the breathalyzer test. People aren’t as familiar with the implications that occur when they denied the test as they should have been.
Drivers Already Give Implied Consent
All states rely on the rule of implied consent. This means that drivers already agree to a breathalyzer test if they get asked for one since they chose to drive in the first place. Implied consent means that drivers must give consent whether they think it’s right or not. These laws are different in every state concerning which type of test is mandatory, but they exist in every state.
Rules on Consent to Field Tests Are Different
Generally, drivers can refuse to take a field test, but it could still reflect poorly on them. These are the roadside tests that officers use to gauge whether or not a driver is intoxicated. The roadside tests are standardized and are called the one-leg-stand test, the walk-and-turn test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Research has found these methods to be suitable for evaluating inebriation.