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Police have a variety of tools at their disposal to catch suspected drunken drivers. But is it legal for police to draw your blood when they suspect a DUI?
In general, the answer is yes. While field sobriety tests (like being told to touch your nose or walk a straight line) and alcohol breath tests may be more common, police can also force you to undergo an alcohol blood test.
Can you refuse a blood test? It depends. But the punishment for refusal may be even worse than testing positive for alcohol or drugs. Here's why:
Implied Consent Laws
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have implied consent laws on the books. Under those laws, anyone with a driver's license effectively gives consent for police to draw blood for a DUI test, or for police to administer breath or urine tests as needed.
Penalties for Refusal
If a driver refuses a chemical test, a state's implied consent law may trigger harsh penalties such as a mandatory driver's license suspension for as long as a year. The sentence for refusing a chemical test may be imposed even if the driver is eventually found not guilty of the underlying DUI.
Penalties for refusing a DUI chemical test are oftentimes harsher than the penalties for a first-time DUI offense. A court can also potentially impose harsher penalties on a convicted drunken driver who also refused a chemical test.
Warrants for Blood Tests
Some states allow police to quickly obtain an electronic warrant to compel a driver's alcohol blood test. If there's a valid warrant, you generally can't refuse; in Texas, police are even allowed to use force in obtaining a blood sample with a warrant.
But keep in mind, just because police drew your blood for a DUI test, it's not necessarily the end of the road for your legal defense. Test results and police procedures can sometimes be disputed in court, so it may be wise to consult with an experienced DUI lawyer near you.
Do you still have your own question about a DUI-related issue? FindLaw Answers has a robust DUI/DWI message board where you can usually get an answer to your issue within 24 hours. Feel free to join the conversation.