BAC & Sobriety Testing

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Questions About BAC and Sobriety Testing?

Get Answers from a Snohomish County DUI Attorney

  1. Can I refuse to submit to a chemical test?
  2. What consequences will I face if I refuse a chemical test?
  3. How do I challenge the results of my chemical test?
  4. How do I challenge the validity of my field sobriety test results?

1. Can I refuse to submit to a chemical test?

“Can I refuse to give a breath or blood sample if asked?” The answer depends, but generally, you can refuse a breath or blood alcohol test. Keep in mind that some jurisdictions will seek a warrant and force a blood draw if you refuse.

Another thing to keep in mind is that sometimes people are on probation for a prior DUI / physical control charge, and the judge says you can’t refuse while on probation. If you are on probation and an officer thinks you are under the influence, you must provide a sample of your blood or breath or you face a mandatory 30-day jail commitment and an additional 30-day loss of driver’s license if you refuse on this new charge.

Does all this sound complicated? Admittedly it is, and the best way to avoid issues is to speak with legal representation right there while the officer waits before you refuse or accept.

Most state laws have an implied consent law that requires you to take a blood or breath test if you are arrested for a DUI. The implied consent law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence, then you consent to taking a chemical test of your blood or breath for the purpose of determining your blood or breath alcohol content. The test must be taken within two hours of driving and in most cases, the officer should offer you a DUI breath test.

It usually does not help you to refuse to take a blood or breath test when you are arrested. For a first DUI, you face jail time that ranges from one day to a year and you will have to pay a fine from $350 to $5,000 and have a year-long revocation of your driver’s license for refusing to provide a sample of your blood / breath. Still, refusing a blood test for DUI does not guarantee that you won’t be convicted.

You could be found guilty of a DUI even if your refusal means that the prosecutor does not have proof that your BAC was over 0.08%, the legal limit for individuals over 21.

2. What consequences will I face if I refuse a chemical test?

A commonly held, yet mistaken, belief is that by refusing the DUI blood test, a defendant will fare better in court because the officer will have no proof against him or her. While this may be the case under rare circumstances, the criminal justice process pertaining to DUI cases has evolved, and it has established provisions for law enforcement to pursue if an officer truly believes that a suspect was, in fact, driving under the influence.

Washington laws allow for the state to pursue driver’s license sanctions against suspected DUI drivers who refuse testing. The officer must warn you that if you choose to take a test and your results are at or above the legal limit, your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days. You face other penalties once you are convicted of a DUI. After you submit to the officer’s test, you have the right to additional tests taken by a medical professional of your choice.

Furthermore, refusing a blood alcohol test may prompt an officer to obtain a warrant for the test anyway, so suspects who refuse all tests may be inciting the arresting officer to go above and beyond what they normally would. If you are stopped for DUI, deciding to agree to, or refuse, consent of a DUI blood test is not an easy decision.

3. How do I challenge the results of my chemical test?

If you were asked to complete a chemical test, you may think that there is no way you can avoid a conviction. This isn’t necessarily true.

With a skilled Snohomish County DUI defense attorney on your side, it is possible to get your charges reduced or dropped, despite the results of the chemical test. How is this possible? The reality is that there are many reasons why chemical test results can be incorrect. At the Law Office of Mark W. Garka, PLLC, we are well aware of this and will work to cast doubt on the validity of such test results.

Some tactics that may be used to help fight your DUI charge include:

  • Demonstrating that the mouthpiece was not changed on the machine used for testing
  • Proving that the machine was not properly calibrated or that proper calibration was not maintained
  • Demonstrating that proper records or logs were not maintained for the machine
  • Showing that the person who operated the machine was not properly trained

Our firm is dedicated to your rights. We will look into these records and will attempt to find reason to dismiss the results of chemical testing. While this does not guarantee that your case will be dismissed, it certainly reduces your chances of facing a conviction. This is our goal and we will work tirelessly to help you achieve it.

4. How do I challenge the validity of my field sobriety test results?

When you get pulled over by a law enforcement officer on suspicion of driving under the influence, you may be asked to complete roadside sobriety tests. These tests are designed to help the officer determine whether or not you should be arrested for a DUI. Although many officers and even some drivers may think these tests provide a good measurement of whether or not someone is driving under the influence, experienced and skilled DUI lawyers know that this simply is not true.

There are many possible reasons for performing poorly on one of these roadside tests. Some of these include:

  • Having a disability, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional
  • Being on a prescription medication that affects reflexes or the ability to think clearly
  • Environmental factors, such as whether or not the road is smooth and even
  • Feeling nervous or anxious about performing the test

Because there are so many factors that can contribute to a person's poor performance on a roadside sobriety test, our skilled Washington State DUI lawyers at the Law Office of Mark W. Garka, PLLC can successfully cast doubt on whether or not you should have been arrested for a DUI.

Serving The State of Washington