If an officer pulls a driver over on suspicion of driving intoxicated, they may ask for the driver to take a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. Though the officer “asks,” the asking serves as a simple formality.
In reality, a driver has much less control over the situation than they might think, as the request serves as more of a demand in practice.
Implied consent on the road
Tech Target discusses implied consent, something that a BAC test directly ties to. Implied consent exists in situations where a sensible person could assume that someone gave their consent to something, even without having that consent in spoken or written form.
For drivers, implied consent exists in the context of intoxicated driving and BAC tests. In order to use public roads – which make up the majority of road systems – a driver implies that they give consent for officers to test them for intoxication. This keeps the rest of the road and other drivers on it safe.
Warnings from an officer
An officer cannot physically force a person to take a BAC test, however. Thus, if a driver intends to refuse, the officer has a legal obligation to alert them to the potential penalties they face for refusal. This can include additional time in jail and fines if they end up convicted of a DUI crime.
It also includes the temporary suspension of their driver’s license for 180 days or longer. This will hold true even if the driver does not face any DUI charges, making refusal of a BAC test more trouble than it is worth.
Other available options
If you are arrested for drunk driving, you may be worried that taking a BAC test will result in a conviction. However, criminal defense attorneys have other tools at their disposal to challenge the results of such tests. Moreover, other circumstances surrounding your arrest or charge – such as whether it was a first-time charge – can also be used to your advantage. An experienced lawyer may be able to use such factors as evidence to get your charges reduced – or dropped all together.