When your blood alcohol content (BAC) is determined to be over the legal limit of 0.08 percent while you were driving a vehicle, there is a legal presumption that you were driving while intoxicated (DWI). For this reason, prosecutors often prefer to use the results of chemical tests in DWI cases because these provide a specific BAC reading for the court to see. Without chemical test results, a case generally depends on an officer’s testimony that you were impaired, which can be less persuasive than concrete numbers.
However, what happens if you refuse to submit to a chemical test of your BAC? Can the police use force to collect a sample for a chemical test? The answer varies depending on the circumstances but the following is some information regarding the forcible collection and your rights.
New Jersey has an implied consent statute that every driver agrees to submit to a breath test when police request one due to suspicions of DWI. If you refuse to submit a breath sample, there are consequences such as the suspension of your driver’s license.
Blood or Urine Tests
The Supreme Court of the United States has held that simply because alcohol or drugs dissipate in the blood does not necessarily give police the right to force a test without a warrant. In many cases, a warrant must be obtained before police can perform a blood test without needing consent. The state of law with respect to urine tests is currently in flux which leaves a lot of wiggle room for attorneys to defend their clients in court.
The implied consent statute mentioned above also includes a provision that prohibits police from using force to complete a chemical test if a suspect refuses or physically resists a test. There have been instances around the U.S. in recent years of police restraining suspects and having a catheter inserted to forcibly obtain a urine sample when a suspect is unable or unwilling to do so voluntarily.
New Jersey law seems to prohibit this type of forcible collection of chemical samples, though this does not necessarily stop police officers from trying. This is an as-of-yet underdeveloped area of criminal and 4th Amendment law in the U.S. and the restrictions on the use of force for collection are generally determined on a case-by-case basis. This means it is essential to have an attorney handling your case who knows how to identify when your rights have been violated if you have been the victim of forcible blood or urine collection.
Call 732-662-7658 today for a free consultation.
If you have been arrested for DWI or any other charge, you should not delay in calling an experienced DWI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Leon Matchin. We are here to help protect your rights, so please contact our New Jersey office today.