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Understand the law for DUI testing after a police traffic stop

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2024 | DUI and Traffic

Anytime an Idaho driver sees the flashing overhead lights of a law enforcement vehicle behind them and they are ordered to stop, they will understandably be nervous as to what will happen. This is particularly true if they have just come from an event or a dinner and consumed a certain amount of alcohol. They will even be worried if they have not been consuming any intoxicating substances.

There are telltale signs law enforcement will look for when deciding to conduct a traffic stop to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol. Weaving in and out of traffic, driving recklessly, going too slow or appearing overly cautious are just some indicators officers might use to justify the stop.

Once the stop has been made, officers will interact with the driver. Signs the driver might be under the influence are bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol. A request will likely then be made for a driver to take part in testing to determine their blood alcohol content. This can be an area of confusion for many as they function under the belief that they can simply refuse. Knowing the law for the request is a key part of the case and formulating a defense.

Getting a driver’s license means consenting to a breath test

When a person is driving in Idaho and they have a driver’s license, they may or may not know that they have already consented to taking a breath test to determine whether they are committing a DUI when asked to do so by a law enforcement officer.

A fundamental part of that, however, is that there be reasonable grounds to make the request. That includes believing the driver has been drinking and they were in physical control of the vehicle. Those who were not drinking or believe the officer’s request is being made without reasonable grounds can question it.

Many are under the impression that they are within their rights to discuss the matter with an attorney before submitting to the test. This is not the case. A refusal by itself carries penalties independent of whether the driver was drinking alcohol or not. There will be a $250 fine for the refusal. They might need to place an ignition interlock device on their vehicle where they need to blow into it to ensure they have not consumed alcohol before the vehicle will start.

On the other side of the coin, the driver can request a hearing within seven days to explain why they refused. Even after the test has been given, they can pay for a second test by a person they have selected. A first refusal will result in the driver’s license being suspended for one year. A second refusal within 10 years will result in a two-year suspension.

Any DUI-related issue warrants a strong legal defense

People who are in this situation might not have any experience with the possibility of being arrested. They are also concerned about how a DUI charge will affect their employment and their standing in the community. Many need their driver’s license to work and losing it will cause financial and personal problems that will impact their entire family.

In most cases, law enforcement officers are simply trying to do their job. Just because they have asked a driver to submit to a test to determine their BAC does not imply malicious intent. Still, there can be a gap between what the officer believes is reasonable cause and the driver’s behavior. Refusal, in some instances, could be justified. For this or any other legal issue related to drunk driving, it is important to know how to craft a comprehensive defense to try and avoid long-term ramifications.