In most states, police officers use a Breathalyzer to determine if a driver is impaired. However, there are reasons an officer in may administer a blood test instead to assess blood alcohol levels. While drivers in Oklahoma City have rights under law, they still must submit to these tests to avoid penalty.
Implied consent and BAC overview
Oklahoma sets the legal blood alcohol content level at 0.08, and drivers can get charged even below that level. Commercial drivers must not register over 0.04, and drivers under 21 cannot have any amount in their system.
Implied consent laws state that by having a license, a driver gives permission to get tested by officers. If a driver suspected of DUI refuses a Breathalyzer, an officer can order a blood test with a warrant. Congress passed a law in 2016 requiring officers in all states to have warrants before taking blood samples needed for DUI arrests. Since breath tests are not as invasive, the officer does not need to get a warrant. In addition, police can force a blood test on drivers who cause fatal vehicle accidents, and they can make a draw on unconscious drivers.
Penalties for refusal
Refusals can be used against the driver in court as evidence of intoxication, and BAC isn’t needed for conviction. Penalties for a first refusal offense include an immediate license suspension for six months to three years. Drivers must install an ignition interlock device for one year to 18 months on first refusal. The period extends up to four years for a second chemical test refusal and five years for a third refusal.
Even if a driver gets charged with DWI or DUI, they can fight charges. Blood samples are not always reliable, and the defense can use several challenges to attempt to avoid a conviction.