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Blood alcohol tests: Your rights and responsibilities

There are several things that happen when a law enforcement officer has reason to believe that you are driving after you have been drinking. In most cases, a traffic stop is initiated. That leads to specific tests that can be used to determine if you are intoxicated. You might be given a field sobriety test. You might also be asked to take a breath test or blood test to determine your blood alcohol concentration. When it comes to those tests, there are several points you should know.

The first point is that when you obtained your driver's license, you agreed to the implied consent law, which means that you will submit to a breath test when you are asked to do so by law enforcement officers. Failure to do so means that you can lose your driver's license and face specific penalties. For example, you can face the loss of your license for seven to 12 months on a first offense, two years on the second offense and 10 years on the third offense.

If you refuse to take a breath test, which you have the right to do if you are willing to face the penalties, you will likely be taken for a blood test. A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling requires that police officers obtain a search warrant if they are going to collect a blood sample from you for a BAC test. It is important to note that this ruling doesn't have an impact on breath tests, which can be obtained lawfully without a search warrant.

Drunk driving charges are often dependent on the results of BAC testing. If you have refused to take the tests and are facing legal penalties because of that, you should learn about your options to fight against these penalties

Source: State of New Jersey, Motor Vehicle Commission, "Breathalyzer Test," accessed June 29, 2016

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