Can Law Enforcement Force Me to Take a Blood Test?
An evening with friends resulted in one glass of wine too many. You think you’re not that drunk and decide to drive yourself home instead of calling a Lyft. The next thing you know you are swerving a bit, having a hard time keeping your vehicle on the road. As you quickly find out, you weren’t the only person on the road and now you see flashing red and blue lights behind you. As the panic sets in, you may be wondering can the police force me to take a blood alcohol test?
The answer to this question is both yes and no. Under the laws of expressed consent, if law enforcement has probable cause to stop you, your consent has lawfully been given to take your blood or breath as evidence. However, you may still choose to refuse these tests at the expense of your driver’s license. While you most likely think of alcohol when someone is pulled over for driving under the influence, it is possible to be charged with a DUI for drugs as well. As such, if you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, you will be asked to take a urine test in lieu of a blood/breath test.
It is your right to choose whether to have your blood alcohol content measured via a blood test or a breathalyzer test, although once you choose a method you must stick with it. If you try and change after making your initial selection, you could be guilty of refusing the test and face applicable consequences.
Typically, you will be required to have your blood sample drawn before two hours have passed from the time you last drove your car. In rare instances, this may not be the case if situations occur that prevent the collection and testing from happening within two hours. Some common issues that may delay your blood or breathalyzer test are power outages, inclement weather, long waits at the medical facility, and equipment that is not working properly.
A refusal to comply with police orders to take a blood or breathalyzer test will result in unpleasant consequences. While law enforcement cannot force you to take the test against your will, they can make you lose your driving privileges for an extended period of time. A first offense will result in your license being revoked for a period of one year. Subsequent offenses will result in longer suspensions.
While the general rule is that you may legally refuse to take a breath or blood test, it is possible (in specific circumstances) for law enforcement to be within their legal right to physically restrain you so a test can be administered. In order for this to occur, you must have injured or killed yourself or another person. Under these unique circumstances, it is possible for you to be tested even if you’re dead or unconscious. Whether or not you have been arrested is irrelevant in these conditions.