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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

DUI Breath, Blood, and Urine Testing

When an individual is charged with driving under the influence in Buck’s County and they refuse a blood test and/or a Breathalyzer or urine test, by Pennsylvania statute, that person will often face a one year additional license suspension as well as the presumption – at a criminal trial – that the person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A Buck’s County DUI lawyer can advise an individual on how to appropriately approach these tests.

Taking DUI Tests

As a general rule, it is never beneficial to refuse these DUI tests. In fact, in the majority of Pennsylvania DUI cases, a Breathalyzer and/or blood test can lead to an acquittal. So it is always best to submit to any test that a police officer and/or a State Trooper has to administer.

An individual should never be concerned about what substances are inside their system because once a refusal is documented, and after what we call O’Connell warnings are given to an accused, that person then is subjected to the highest conviction for driving under the influence. This is because of the implied consent rule. Implied consent indicates that any person operating a motor vehicle who has been given a driver’s license in Pennsylvania gives implied consent to a blood draw and/or Breathalyzer test at the recommendation of a police officer.

So, even if the person knows that they are under the influence of alcohol, if their test falls below 0.16%, then that person would only be subjected to a second tier DUI charge, which means fewer penalties, fines, and incarcerations.

In cases where the individual is involved in an accident and they are subjected to a hospital, whether or not they are unconscious, the individual is assumed to have given consent to a blood draw and their blood results can be used against them in a prosecution for driving under the influence.

Arguing Against Implied Consent

In Pennsylvania, it is well established that consent is always implied, and therefore it is written in the legislative statutes. Even an appeal to the highest court in Pennsylvania, first the superior court and then the supreme court of Pennsylvania would not overturn the legislative intent that has demanded implied consent in most cases involving DUI.

So, there is no reason to constitutionally challenge the implied consent law because once the legislature has determined the law to be put on the books, it is the governing Supreme Court’s rulings that must adhere to the legislative intent. In Pennsylvania, which is an implied consent state, the legislative intent requires that someone is subject to a blood and/or Breathalyzer Test or a heavy burden would otherwise be held against them during any prosecution for DUI.

Effects of Refusing a Test

In Pennsylvania, if someone is requested by police and/or other government officials to subject to a blood and/or Breathalyzer exam, upon suspicion of driving under the influence, an individual must consent to such testing. Otherwise, they face an additional one year license suspension and a presumption that they are otherwise under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of driving.

This presumption may be enough in and of itself to lead toward convictions.  It is always best to submit to these test, however, arguments can be made that a police officer’s request for such testing is overly intrusive and/or lacks probable cause.

Benefit of an Attorney

Working with an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney ensures that any defenses to such consent are brought to the court’s attention and if the presumption of driving under the influence may be challenged in a way that is constitutionally acceptable it will be.

Therefore, filing motions on a person’s behalf and/or challenging multiple tests given by police, when one test may have been enough, often can lead to an acquittal or dismissal of charges. Police and/or government officials still must follow guidelines for DUI charges that require that only one test be given and that the person must not be overly burdened by such tests.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can raise the proper arguments that can and often do lead to an acquittal of driving under the influence charges.

Justified Refusal of Tests

It is never wise to refuse a test, but once requested to do a blood and/or Breathalyzer test by the police, arguments can be made that the individual would have preferred a Breathalyzer test to a blood test because of personal or medical issues.

If the individual has a substantiated asthma medication and/or condition, they may not be able to participate properly in a Breathalyzer test. Therefore, they should otherwise be given a blood test upon request. Additionally, if they have medically proven problems with taking such blood draws, they should request a Breathalyzer Test – and with the use and training of police, those requests, if they are reasonable should be met.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can argue that an individual should have been given the option of a different test if they were having a problem with the initial test.

Ultimately, not participating fully in one test or another will often lead to an additional penalty of one year license suspension and a presumption that the driver was otherwise unable to operate a motor vehicle safely. But challenging the particular test given, upon a reasonable request by an individual for the other test, is something that courts do take into account and in some cases may lead to an acquittal of all charges.