When you get pulled over by the police for drunk driving (usually referred to as a DUI for “driving under the influence”; or a DWAI “driving while ability impaired”) your life has just changed substantially. A DUI is a very serious offence in all 50 states. Each state has its own DUI “per se” law which defines what constitutes the crime of DUI. If you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over a certain level (usually 0.08 percent blood alcohol) the law says that you will be found guilty of the crime of DUI. If you are under 0.08 percent blood alcohol but above another amount (usually 0.05 percent) then you are guilty of a DWAI.
Some states have even enacted what they call zero tolerance laws for underage drinkers and drivers that reduce the “per se” threshold to an even lower blood alcohol percentage for those under age drivers. Other states have also enacted much harsher penalties for drivers with very high blood alcohol levels. The few states that have legalized marijuana, like Colorado and Washington, have also set standards for driving while high based on the THC content of the blood.
You may be stopped by a police officer because he has reason to believe you are driving your car while drunk or you may be stopped for some other vehicular infraction which then leads the officer to believe you have been drinking. The officer will then require you to take some kind of roadside sobriety test. This can start with some physical dexterity tests, but will usually end with the officer seeking a breath, blood or urine sample for testing of your blood alcohol level.
Almost all states now have “implied consent” laws which means that if you have a driver’s license you are deemed to have consented to be tested and are therefore required to comply with whatever test the officer requests you to take or be subject to fines and/or license suspension – sometimes right on the spot – for refusing to take the test. Sometimes the officer will give the driver a choice of breath test or blood test, but they can require whatever test the state statute allows. If they give you a choice of tests is one better than the other for your case going forward?
Some DUI criminal defense attorneys suggest taking the breath test, if given the choice, as they seem to think that they can argue the breath test is not as accurate as the blood test. Also, a breath test does not test for any other drugs other than alcohol like a blood test does.
On the other hand, some other defense attorneys suggest taking the blood test as it will usually take some time to get that test done as you have to be transported to a facility where blood can be drawn and the test ran in a laboratory as opposed to a breath test which can usually be administered immediately at the roadside stop. Their thinking is that the time taken (which can be a long time if you are a long way from a hospital) may allow your blood alcohol level to drop depending on when you had the last drink and how much you had to drink.
You do have the right to refuse to take any test. However, your license will be immediately revoked and you will still be charged with a DUI and additional fines imposed. In some states your license can be immediately revoked even if you take the test.
As you can see, a DUI is a very serious criminal charge. There are many different variables in each DUI case. Each state’s laws are a little different. Even though there are sentencing guidelines that a court must follow, an attorney can help you to get the best possible outcome on your penalties. It is very important that you get help from an experienced DUI defense lawyer to help you through this process. If we can help you with a free initial consultation, please give us a call at (720) 457-4959. www.familylawattorneyindenver.com