There are two different ways for prosecutors to convict people of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol - first, they can present evidence of impairment, such as an officer's observations of slurred speech, erratic driving, the odor of alcohol, containers in the vehicle, and more. On the other hand, the prosecutor can present evidence that a driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) was over the legal limit, which is 0.08 percent for most drivers, 0.04 percent for commercial drivers, and 0.02 percent for underage drivers.
When your BAC is over the legal limit, it is known as a “per se” DUI. This means the high BAC is the only evidence the prosecutor needs to prove that you were under the influence. For this reason, law enforcement officers often strive to obtain evidence of a driver's BAC. At a traffic stop, an officer may perform a breath test and, after an arrest, a driver may be subject to a blood test at a hospital or the police station.
The Legality of DUI Blood Tests
Some DUI arrests happen after car crashes, and the driver may need medical attention. They may perform a blood test at the emergency room, and you may assume that the results of that blood test will be kept private as medical records are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). However, in 2006, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that hospitals can turn over blood test results to police if an individual is in the custody of law enforcement at the time of the test.
Even if you do not go to the hospital, police stations have the ability to perform blood tests. Unlike a breath test, there is no criminal charge for the refusal of a blood test, though you can face administrative penalties, such as a license suspension. If you refuse to submit a blood sample, however, officers may still obtain a warrant to compel one. Prosecutors can then use the results of a blood test as proof of your BAC in your DUI case.
Challenging a Blood Test in a DUI Case
When the authorities have a blood test showing your BAC was over the legal limit, you may think a conviction for DUI is inevitable. However, there are ways to challenge the results of blood tests, and you should always have an experienced DUI defense attorney evaluate your options.
Often, the police and the forensic labs do not follow proper procedures when conducting or processing blood tests, and this can affect the reliability of the results. Other factors can also lead to false positives, and you want the right attorney handling this type of highly technical defense.
Speak with a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer
The experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense team at Taylor Law Group is ready to help. We help our clients defend against all types of criminal charges, so please do not wait to contact us online or call 615-890-1982 for a consultation.