What Is The “Implied Consent” Law?

When you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence, officers will require you to submit to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content. This can be done in three ways: blood test, urine test, or breath test if officers believe you’re intoxicated from alcohol. However, what happens if you simply refuse to take this test? Are you denying officers a chance to collect evidence against you and thus limiting their ability to prosecute you? You might think so, but the truth of the matter is you’re only going to wind up in even more hot water.

This is because you’re actually not allowed to refuse consent to a chemical test once you’ve been placed under arrest, thanks to Alabama’s “implied consent” law. To put it simply, this law says that by obtaining your license and operating a vehicle on public roads, you imply that you give consent to officers to conduct a blood or breath test when you are arrested. Nobody is exempted from this requirement: even being dead doesn’t exempt you from law enforcement collecting a blood sample for intoxication testing purposes.

Refusing a Chemical Test

Of course, officers can’t force you to relieve yourself for a urine test or forcibly put a needle into your arm, so you are still required to peacefully go along with their instructions and take a chemical test when you are placed under arrest. But what happens when you still refuse, thus violating the implied consent law?

For starters, your license will automatically be suspended for 90 days minimum, without recourse. Thus, you’ll lose your ability to drive for at least three months. And that’s just the beginning: refusing to take the test doesn’t mean officers can’t collect evidence, and in fact many times law enforcement and DUI prosecutors will use refusal to take a test as an admission of guilt. Courts often allow this as admissible evidence, so you really aren’t even helping your case by refusing to take a test.

Preferred Test

The law enforcement agency that makes your arrest has the final say as to which type of chemical test you take, however you are allowed to refuse a certain type of test in favor of another, so long as another type of test is available. For example, there are plenty of people who have a strong fear of needles or get really queasy when they see blood, and thus don’t want to have their blood drawn.

You are allowed to tell your arresting agency that you would rather take a urine or breath test instead, and most agencies will accommodate this if they have the means available to them. However, if only one type of chemical test is available, you will be required to take that particular type. Don’t let this worry you: the overwhelming majority of law enforcement agencies have a breathalyzer available to them because they’re inexpensive, easy to conduct, non-invasive, and generally pretty reliable when it comes to accuracy, so long as the machine was calibrated properly and the test was administered according to established protocols.

However, regardless of which test you were subjected to, you should speak with a Birmingham DUI attorney as soon as possible. The officers conducting the test may have made a mistake that could jeopardize the accuracy of your results, thus throwing the integrity of the evidence into question, which means it needs to be thrown out from your case. As long as you followed all instructions, the prosecution’s case against you generally falls apart pretty quickly when their evidence is found faulty.

Call Tidwell Law Group, LLC at (205) 536-7770 as soon as possible to schedule your case evaluation if you’ve been charged with driving under the influence in the Birmingham area!