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Can Police Force You to Undergo a Blood Alcohol Test?

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Jan 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

"Can police force you to undergo a blood alcohol test?"

That's the exact question the Supreme Court of the United States is considering.

The justices heard arguments this week as to whether police officers must get a warrant before ordering a blood test on unwilling suspected drunk drivers in the m atter of Missouri v. McNeely, reports the AP.

On the one hand, the justices heard arguments that if a blood alcohol test is not ordered, that evidence may be forever lost as alcohol in the blood stream will dissipate. On the other hand, Americans enjoy a constitutional protection from unreasonable searches and seizures which would presumably protect one's own blood supply.

The Supreme Court is not expected to issue a ruling on this case until the summer. And even though the case involves a drunk driving case in Missouri, the case has the potential to impact Washington state DUI laws as well.

Washington Implied Consent Laws

Washington's implied consent laws provide that if you are arrested for drunk driving, you automatically give consent to a breath or blood alcohol test. (RCW 46.20.308RCW 46.20.308).

However, despite this implied consent, this does not mean that police officers can force you to undergo a test if you are not willing. Instead, only in very limited circumstances will a person be required to give blood against their consent.  This occurs in situations including vehicular homicide or assault or when law enforcement obtains a search warrant to take blood in the absence of express consent.

In other circumstances, an individual can refuse the test and face the penalties associated with the refusal. A refusal to submit to a blood test in Washington has increased penalties that include at least a one year revocation of the driving privilege under the implied consent law and enhanced criminal penalties.

If you have any questions about a blood alcohol test in Washington or other evidence that can be used against you in a DUI trial, you will want to talk to an attorney. The attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense have been representing DUI defendants in the Seattle and King County areas for over a decade and can help you fight your battle. Give us a call directly at 425-284-2000 to schedule your free consultation.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


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