In Florida, there is no absolute rule empowering drivers to always refuse a law enforcement officer’s request for a blood test. There are certain circumstances under which you can refuse to submit to a law enforcement officer’s request for a blood test, and certain other circumstances under which you may be required by law to submit to such request.
Understanding these differences will help ensure that you do not submit to any unnecessary blood tests and thus hurt your subsequent DUI defense arguments.
Refusing a Request
The circumstances under which a law enforcement officer can request a blood test are limited from the outset. An officer may only request that you submit to a blood test if he or she reasonably believes that: 1) you were driving while intoxicated; 2) that you caused or contributed to a crash that involved injuries; and 3) breathe or urine testing is impractical or impossible.
After satisfying all those requirements, the law enforcement officer may request that you submit to a blood test, but you are not required to submit. You are free to reject the request, but bear in mind the consequences of your refusal. Your first refusal to take a blood test will result in a 1-year suspension of your driver’s license, your second refusal (and additional refusals) will result in a 1.5-year suspension along with criminal consequences.
Though it may seem like a good idea to refuse a blood sample test request, you should weigh the consequences carefully. A 1-year suspension of your license may be less punishing than a DUI, but it is worth noting that your refusal to submit to a blood test does not necessarily “shield” you from a DUI charge. In fact, your refusal to submit to a blood test can be used as evidence against you in court.
If you do submit to a blood test, you may also request an additional, independent blood test. If the law enforcement officer does not take steps to help ensure that you are provided with an independent blood test, then your defense attorneys may be able to suppress the officer’s blood test evidence.
Compelled Blood Test
An officer may compel you to submit to a blood test against your will – even going so far as to force the needle through your skin to draw blood – if he or she reasonably believes that you were driving while intoxicated and caused or contributed to an accident in which serious injury or death occurred.
To put it simply: if you are suspected to be driving while intoxicated, and were involved in an accident where no serious injuries occurred, you may refuse the blood test. If you are suspected to be driving while intoxicated, and were involved in an accident where serious injuries or death occurred, you may be compelled to accept the blood test.
If you have been compelled to accept a blood test, or if you voluntarily agreed to a blood test, your defense attorneys may be able to argue against those results being brought in as evidence in your case.
Officers often make mistakes during apprehension of purportedly intoxicated drivers. The following examples are non-exhaustive:
An officer might have assumed that you were intoxicated, when in fact no probable cause existed – it was not “reasonable” for the officer to believe that you were intoxicated, and thus requesting or compelling a blood test would not be allowed.
A breath test or urine sample test may have been practical. The officer need not have rush to conduct a blood test when a breathalyzer would have worked just fine.
You may have only been peripherally involved in an accident. If you did not cause or contribute to the accident, but the officer mistakenly thought you did, then the blood test was unwarranted.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI at least partly on the basis of a blood test administered at a traffic stop or accident scene, call (941) 900-3100 as soon as possible to speak with experienced Sarasota DUI attorneys today.