You can refuse a breathalyzer in a DWI case. And, suffer the consequences. However, you might want to reconsider the idea of refusing the request to give a blood sample. Or, know that the police can get a warrant requiring one. In unique situations, they might not even need one.
The Consequences of Refusing the Breathalyzer Test
We’ve already written about the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer test. The results could mean license revocation for a very long time. Or, extensive fines. Someone who refuses a breathalyzer test could also be required to install a special device to measure their blood alcohol reading every time they start their car. And, attend mandatory classes for drivers convicted of drunk driving offenses.
Yet, some drivers are still too afraid to have their actual blood alcohol content (BAC) measured. Are the consequences worth the risk?
The police have another alternative. They may determine that your level of intoxication warrants a blood sample. Do you have a choice?
Blood Samples and DWI Cases
Let’s talk about how blood samples work with DWI cases. Of course, there’s the obvious. The police may request that the defendant agree to have blood withdrawn for analysis. There’s definitely no issue if the accused offers consent. But, what about if there is a refusal?
Can the police actually order hospital personnel to physically hold down a non-compliant defendant and take his blood? Without a warrant?
There is no short answer. It depends. In State v. Adkins, the New Jersey Supreme Court considered this issue. It determined that whether the officer decided to pursue the blood draw without a warrant needed to be viewed on an objective case by case basis. Was it really an emergency to hold off on waiting for the warrant?
In the Adkins case, Timothy Adkins was involved in a one car accident. He failed a field sobriety test. According to federal case law, it wasn’t enough that “the natural metabolism of alcohol in an individual’s bloodstream” would change a blood alcohol reading. The police still needed to wait for a warrant.
The law remains open as to what constitutes a reason to obtain a blood draw without a requirement for consent or a warrant. It is subject to challenge.
The expediency with which a warrant can be obtained may well effect the outcome of the blood alcohol test. Time will tell.
At the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo, we offer our clients substantial experience in the area of DWI/DUI. If you or a loved one is facing this type of case, please be sure to contact us. We will be happy to provide you with preliminary legal advice.