It's safe to say most people hate giving blood. It's even a surer bet that most people hate giving blood after being pulled over for a DUI. However, blood alcohol tests can be the difference between freedom and a night in the drunk tank. Here are five things you should know about blood alcohol tests and that all-important blood alcohol concentration (BAC) percentage.
1. The police can get your BAC through five different methods.
Hate the sight of blood? Not to worry - the police can conveniently determine a DUI suspect's BAC level through five different body samples: urine, saliva, hair follicles, blood and breath. Unfortunately, breath analysis and blood screening are the most broadly used, and the police can insist on a blood screening if you refuse a breath analysis.
2. Breathalyzer vs. Blood Test
Blood tests are generally considered the most accurate of the two. This could be either a good or bad thing for a DUI suspect. Some independent studies have claimed that breath readings can vary by 15 percent from actual BAC levels. Whether the 15 percent carries in your favor is not known. However, DUI attorneys have been able to successfully challenge Breathalyzer results in court. It's up to you if you'd rather risk a faulty Breathalyzer test that you can later challenge or an accurate test that might show you are legally drunk.
3. The percentages you should know.
The legal limit for driving is under .08 percent. If you have a BAC level of .15 percent or above, you can be charged with an extreme DUI. DUI suspects with BACs above .20 percent face even more enhanced penalties with a super extreme DUI charge. And if you're under 21, a miniscule BAC of 0.01 percent can get you a DUI.
4. You're already consented to take a blood alcohol test.
In order to receive the privilege of driving, drivers are considered to have consented to chemical or field sobriety tests to determine impairment by applying for a driver's license. If you refuse to submit to testing if an officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have been driving under the influence, you risk automatic license suspension and other penalties.
5. Blood tests are legal if there's a search warrant.
The Arizona Supreme Court ruled last year that police must get a search warrant before they can draw blood from a DUI suspect unless the suspect provides clear consent. However, the police can still suspend your license for not allowing them to conduct a chemical or field sobriety test.
For more information on blood alcohol tests and your rights during a DUI investigation, consult a Phoenix DUI attorney and/or see our Related Resources section.
- Find a Phoenix DUI Attorney (FindLaw)
- Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Test FAQs (FindLaw)
- Arizona DUI Laws (FindLaw)
- DUI Charge for UA Law Dean Dropped, DUI Blood Test Clears Him (The Phoenix DUI Blog)