When you are pulled over for a DUI, the officer may ask you to take a chemical test to measure what your blood-alcohol content, or BAC, was at the time you were driving. The officer should advise you that you have the choice between a breath test, using a breathalyzer instrument, or a blood test, taken through a blood draw. Urine tests may be available when the breath or blood test aren't available and the person cannot undergo a blood draw for medical reasons, to include hemophilia and/or a heart condition that requires anti-coagulant medications. Blood tests are fairly invasive and so they are governed by laws that regulate when, where, and how they can be executed. These laws protect the rights of defendants, help ensure BAC levels generated from blood draws and other chemical tests are sufficiently accurate, and to make sure defendants are not harmed in any way in the process.
California drivers are subject to what is called the implied consent law. Under this law, all California drivers have implicitly given their consent to take a chemical test for their BAC levels at the time of a DUI arrest. Because of this implied consent, drivers do not have the right to refuse to take a BAC test without significant consequences. Refusal will not necessarily mean you will avoid a DUI conviction, and just for refusing or failing to complete a test your license will be suspended for one year and you will have to pay a fine. Additionally, if your arrest does end in a DUI conviction, the refusal will be held against you, and you will face a mandatory minimum jail sentence.
When considering which test is better to take, keep in mind that while the blood draw test is generally thought to be more reliable than a breath test, there is also a lot of room for error in its administration. Blood samples can be contaminated during the collection and storage process. Because of this, California laws have set forth strict protocol that an officer or technician must follow in order to collect and analyze a blood sample. Blood samples must be collected by a someone licensed to perform a forensic alcohol analysis in a forensic lab environment, and the blood must be drawn according to standard blood draw procedures. Technicians cannot use alcohol-based sanitizers prior to the draw, and the blood drawn should be mixed with chemicals to prevent clotting or spoiling. The sample itself must be sufficient in volume to facilitate more than one analysis, and the blood sample should be retained for one year to allow sufficient time for the defendant to procure his or her own independent analysis. There are numerous other regulations that govern how a forensic analysis laboratory must be operated and who is qualified to draw blood. It is important to note here that if the officer has reason to believe you may have been driving under the influence of drugs, he or she may request that you take a blood test, as the breathalyzer test only detects mouth alcohol content and cannot detect other drugs. In this case, you do not have a choice and must submit to a blood test. Again, if you are unable to take a blood test for medical reasons, you will be given a urine test.
If you were arrested and are now facing DUI charges, consult with an experienced California DUI defense attorney. DUI laws can be complicated, but some are there to protect the defendant's rights. You have a right to be given a chemical test that will yield accurate results, but you do not have the right to consult with an attorney before deciding on and taking a chemical test. The regulations and laws surrounding chemical test procedures are in place to make sure testing is accurate, however, it is not uncommon for this accuracy to be compromised from an officer not following protocol or a lab technician not following proper procedure. When you are facing DUI charges, it is important to consider all your defense options. You may be able to challenge the result of your blood test and have it inadmissible as evidence in your case. With a skilled attorney who has a thorough understanding of DUI laws, your case could be dismissed because of an inaccurate or improperly administered chemical test.
Are you or a loved one facing underage DUI charges? If so, contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for expert counsel. Experienced in DUI laws, our Visalia area legal team will make sure every possible defense is used. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Christopher Martens will aggressively defend your rights and will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.