If you're like many drivers, you've never been pulled over upon suspicion of intoxication or taken a breathalyzer test. But in recent years, state lawmakers around the country have started to require highway patrol officers to conduct sobriety tests at the scene of an accident that results in serious injury or death. Even if you're not intoxicated and weren't at fault in the crash, there are some legal risks you should be aware of before submitting to a sobriety test. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of submitting to a breathalyzer after an auto accident.
What are the Potential Risks of Taking a Breathalyzer?
A breathalyzer only analyzes the amount of alcohol in your breath (and therefore bloodstream). It doesn't test for other drugs and may be vulnerable to false positives, especially if you recently used mouthwash or breath spray that contained trace amounts of alcohol. Even if you're stone-cold sober and can pass the physical aspects of the field test, a false-positive breathalyzer reading could subject you to additional testing or even have you arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI).
And if there is some trace of alcohol in your bloodstream, even if you're far below the intoxication threshold of 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC), you're at greater risk of being charged with DUI. Even if you weren't the one who caused the accident, courts and police often assume that the alcohol in your bloodstream made it harder for you to avoid the accident. If two drivers collide and one tests 0.00 BAC while the other tests 0.04, the person with some amount of alcohol in their system is more likely to be deemed "at fault" in the accident.
Can You Legally Refuse a Breathalyzer?
The answer to this question largely depends on your state's law. Many states have enacted "presumption" laws, which state that a person's refusal to submit to a sobriety test at the scene, in combination with other factors, can generate the probable cause needed to issue a warrant for a blood draw. This blood draw will usually test for more than alcohol, so having opiates, marijuana, or other drugs in your system when you're tested can increase the risk that you'll be charged with DUI.
Many states have also passed laws requiring anyone involved in an accident leading to fatality to be drug-tested, either at the scene or later. Because this type of test constitutes a "search" under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you may want to seek legal advice before you submit to a test. Often, an attorney can meet you at the hospital or consult with you over the phone so that you'll have some advice before you make any irrevocable decisions.Share
6 September 2018
My son and a group of his friends got in some trouble for trespassing and were arrested. Every one of the boys that were there were charged with trespassing, criminal mischief and vandalism. I contacted all of the other boys' parents and we got together to discuss the situation. After hearing the boys' stories about what happened that day, we knew that we had to hire an attorney to get the boys out of some of the trouble they were in. I have been working on my blog to help other parents that are struggling with the legal system prosecuting their kids for things that they may not have done.