No-refusal policies becoming more prevalent in DUI testing
Aug. 28, 2015
Drivers have a difficult choice to make when they are asked to submit to a Breathalyzer test after being pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving. If the driver elects to take the test and has a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, it is likely that he will be charged with a DUI. However, all states have implemented implied consent laws to penalize those who refuse to take a breathalyzer test when asked to do so. Therefore, if a driver refuses to submit to a breath test, he will be subjected to an automatic suspension of his driver’s license.
Despite these consequences, a 2003 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that many people who do not submit to tests end up avoiding harsh penalties. The study also revealed that implied consent laws don’t have a major impact on reducing breath test refusals.
Because of these breath test refusals, more and more law enforcement officials are enacting “no-refusal” policies with regards to DUI testing. With these policies, officers in many jurisdictions may attempt to get a warrant to secure a blood draw or a breath test from the driver. Obtaining a paper warrant would take a few hours, giving the driver time to sober up before taking the test. Nowadays, officers can have an electronic warrant sent to their phones to avoid this time delay.
A driver who refuses a court-ordered blood alcohol test via warrant may be facing contempt charges that are more serious than just a license suspension. Drivers can still refuse a BAC test with a no-refusal policy in place, but they cannot legally refuse a search warrant for such a test. These serious consequences make it less likely for a driver to refuse a test.
No-refusal policies are not supported by everyone. Drivers are protected under law against unreasonable search and seizure. The American Civil Liberties Union finds that these no-refusal policies violate these rights. For blood draws in particular, medical privacy becomes an issue as well. However, as of right now, a majority of states have a legal authority to implement no-refusal initiatives. This is something to be aware of if you are ever pulled over for a possible DUI.