New DUI Law in WA Allows Cops to Take Blood Samples from Drivers

Posted on: August 23rd, 2012 by

In most states, when a driver is pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, he or she must submit to a breathalyzer test, field sobriety tests, or blood or urine tests to measure their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Citizens are permitted to obtain driver’s licenses and exercise their driving privileges in return for their implied consent to alcohol testing in the event they are stopped by police, highway patrol, state troopers, or other law enforcement. States have granted discretion to law enforcement to administer these tests when the circumstances warrant it.

Refusal to submit to an alcohol test that the state mandates could lead to legal headaches for a driver. For instance, many states consider withholding consent to a breathalyzer test to be an implied admission of guilt and refusal to consent is a separate offense in itself. A driver who does not give permission to have his or her BAC measured by a breathalyzer can be taken into custody and have a blood or urine sample tested at a police station or hospital, over any objections from the driver. A driver runs the risk of making a bad situation worse by not submitting to a test when requested to do so by an officer of the law. Many lawyers advise their clients to have their blood or urine tested rather than have their breath analyzed, if they are given a choice (many states allow drivers to choose how they would like their BAC to be tested).

The state of Washington has gone one step further than most, however. A new law that took effect earlier this month gives state troopers the right to draw a blood sample for BAC testing from drivers whom they suspect of drunk driving. The blood can be tested for alcohol, drugs and other intoxicants.

A state trooper in Kitsap, Washington, who recently received training in the new law and related police procedures, arrested a man from Port Orchard who got behind the wheel of his car after drinking. This DUI incident from Kitsap, which is located about 25 miles east of Seattle across the Puget Sound, is an example of how the new law will operate.

The 30-year-old driver at the center of this story was observed by a Washington state trooper driving erratically in South Kitsap early one Sunday morning. The trooper initiated a traffic stop and found the unidentified man behind the wheel, accompanied by his wife in the passenger seat.

The trooper administered a breath test; the breathalyzer registered a 0.24 percent blood alcohol concentration, three times the legal limit of .08. The trooper also obtained a blood sample from the driver. Blood tests are generally presumed to give more accurate readings than other tests and are a major reason why attorneys advise their clients to have their BAC measured by blood or urine tests rather than a breathalyzer, which require constant maintenance and calibration.  Breathalyzers that are not well-maintained could be defective or give inaccurate results.

The driver had previously been busted for drunk driving at least four times in the last ten years.  The trooper, aware that a fifth drinking and driving arrest could lead to a felony DUI charge, took the man into custody.

The man is being held on $100,000 bail in a Kitsap County jail. If he is convicted, he could face up to five years in prison. The blood test could confirm the results of the breathalyzer test and provide indisputable evidence that the driver was indeed drunk at the time of his arrest.

If you have recently been pulled over for drunk-driving then contact a DUI lawyer from Huntington Beach right away. A seasoned DUI lawyer from Huntington Beach can evaluate your situation and recommend a course of action designed to obtain the best result based on fact. As your DUI lawyer from Huntington Beach can tell you, a DUI related conviction could have serious legal consequences that could affect every aspect of your life. However, your DUI lawyer from Huntington Beach can advise you of legal options, such as a settlement or plea agreement that could spare you the stress of a trial. If you are convicted of drunk driving, your DUI lawyer may be able to persuade the court to impose a fair and reasonable sentence, rather than a severe one. However your case is resolved, a DUI lawyer from Huntington Beach can help you at every step of the legal process and ensure your interests are protected.