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Attorney Bryan E. Cameron

Blood tests vs. Breathalyzers and refusal

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2021 | DUI

Officers in Sayville, New York, are allowed to conduct chemical testing to determine if a driver is legally drunk. The officer may give a blood, breath, or urine test, but blood and breath are the most common. Some drivers may wonder if they can legally refuse the test and the consequences of doing so.

Breathalyzers and implied consent

A Breathalyzer uses a breath sample to measure the blood alcohol content, or BAC when an officer checks for DWI. Drivers who register 0.08 BAC are considered under the influence, and the limit is lower for commercial drivers at 0.04. Drivers are considered impaired with a BAC of 0.05 or higher, and a BAC of .18 or more is aggravated DWI.

New York’s implied consent law states that drivers consent to chemical testing just by having a driver’s license. Refusing a Breathalyzer or blood test in New York commonly includes penalties of up to $500 and an automatic one-year license suspension.

Blood tests

A blood test requires the officer to draw blood to determine what substances are in the bloodstream and how much. Blood tests are more accurate than a Breathalyzer, but the officer commonly needs a warrant except in certain circumstances. For example, if the driver caused an accident and is unconscious, the officer may not need a warrant. The reason for requiring a warrant for blood tests in most situations is the invasiveness of the procedure.

Deciding which test to take depend on the circumstances, and officers sometimes make mistakes. It’s important to note that the accuracy of Breathalyzers has long been debated since some health conditions can skew results. Refusal of chemical testing can be challenged in court.