Communicating With Your Attorney

What Happens When The Police Accused You Of Drunk Driving And Demand A Blood Test?

Can the state punish you for refusing to submit to a warrantless search? Normally, if you insisted on a search warrant, you'd be well within your rights. In some states, however, your refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test in connection with a DWI allegation is enough to land you in jail. Here's what you need to know.

In some states, you can't refuse without paying a price.

The laws in 13 states have made it a criminal offense to refuse to take a blood test on demand if you're suspected of driving while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol. That charge is independent of any other charge—so even if you're ultimately acquitted of any DWI charges, you can still be prosecuted for the refusal alone. 

In addition, your refusal may be allowed to be used as "evidence" of your guilt for the DWI charge. Essentially, the laws in these states argue that you wouldn't refuse the blood test if you weren't trying to hide something—your refusal shows "consciousness of guilt."  While the Supreme Court is currently weighing the constitutionality of these laws, they're still currently in effect.

In other states, they may simply run a warrant mill.

In other states, where laws like that haven't been enacted, you may find yourself caught up in what are sometimes referred to as "no refusal" operations. The police will set up checkpoints to try to pull in as many suspected DWIs as possible, usually on a holiday weekend or near some other major event in the area. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you'll be asked to submit to a blood test. 

If you refuse the blood test because there's no warrant, the police will simply get one within minutes. Judges will stay on call during these operations to issue warrants by phone or electronic devices, and registered nurses will be on hand to make the blood draws. As of 2014, at least nine states have participated in "no refusal" initiatives. 

You need to listen carefully to your rights.

What can you do to protect your rights during a DWI stop, then, if you're asked for a blood draw? One of the most important things that you can do is to listen very carefully to your rights when the officer explains them to you. If you are threatened with a criminal charge for refusing to comply with the blood test without a warrant, make sure that you take note of the threat. If the Supreme Court changes the law, your attorney may successfully argue that the threat against you was unfair coercion that deprived you of your rights.

You also need to pay attention to whether or not you are entitled to have a sample drawn for private testing. In many states, you have the right to have a sample of your blood drawn for your own use, in your defense. You want to make sure that you insist on this—your attorney can have a private lab do a comparison test to try to refute the results given by the police.

For more information on what to do if you're charged with a DWI, talk to an legal team in your area, such as The Ryan Law Firm.