Implied Consent in Drunk Driving Cases
What are the laws when behind the wheel?
When drivers are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, typically they are reluctant to consent to a chemical test. Chemical tests can be used as evidence to have the motorist convicted of DUI. It is important to know that some states have implied consent laws in motion. These laws are in place to ensure that law enforcement can make individuals take chemical tests, so long as they have reasonable suspicion to believe they are under the influence. If a person is legally driving a vehicle (they have a driver’s license), then they have given implied consent to take a chemical test when appropriate. This law would allow for blood and urine tests to determine the alcohol content of the driver’s blood.
The implied consent laws make it so motorist voluntarily subject themselves to chemical testing. The law states that the consequence for refusing testing is an automatic license suspension. Furthermore, if a driver refuses to consent, it can be considered a separate offense or used to enhance DUI sentencing.
However, before police can ask the driver to take the test, there must be probable cause or reasonable grounds for the officer to assume that the driver is intoxicated. Some states have even mandated that an arrest take place before proceeding with any chemical test.
There has been quite a bit of backlash over the implied consent law, with many contesting that the law violates the constitutional rights of motorists. Numerous courts have deemed the law valid, stating that the motorist’s Fourth Amendment rights are not violated, as they choose to agree to the law when signing their license. The law is upheld on the reasoning that driving is privilege and therefore remains under government regulation.
Some states with implied consent laws mandate that an officer must notify a driver that refusing a chemical test will have consequences. Similarly, other states allow a driver to talk with an attorney before they decide whether or not to agree to take a chemical test. Every state varies, with some states even requiring police officers to inform drivers that they have the right to seek out an alternative, independent chemical test.