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Should you consent to BAC tests when asked?

On your way home from a night out with friends, you suddenly hear sirens behind you. You check your rear-view mirror to see flashing red and blue lights. As you pull over, you nervously try to recollect what to do during a DUI traffic stop.

To determine whether you were driving while intoxicated, the police officer will ask you to consent to taking tests to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. In the heat of the moment, North Dakota drivers may fail to consider whether they have rights in consenting to such tests. Is consenting to a BAC test in your best interests? If you refuse, what consequences could you face?

The reliability of BAC tests

There are three main tests to determine the BAC levels of drivers: breath, blood and urine. Police officers typically administer breath or Breathalyzer tests roadside to determine the level of impairment. Officers typically do not request you to consent to blood or urine tests until after the arrest.

Drivers may weigh the pros and cons of consenting to such tests, given reliability issues including:

  • Breath tests. The results of breath tests can be unreliable due to improper calibration of the device, human error, outlying health factors and more.
  • Blood tests. Widely considered the most accurate, blood tests can still have reliability issues due to human error, improper storage of the sample and more.
  • Urine tests. Often used as a last resort, urine tests can be unreliable due to the length of time between the test and the traffic stop, improper storage and more.

Refusing to take chemical tests can lead to your arrest. North Dakota’s implied consent laws state that by using state highways and roads, drivers consent to taking such tests when requested. A refusal alone can lead to steep penalties like separate criminal charges and the revocation of your driver’s license for at least 180 days and up to three years.

After an arrest

The days following your DUI arrest can be disorientating. You may feel uncertain as to how the charges will affect your future, your driving privileges and more. Write down everything you can recall before, during and after the arrest. Then, discuss the details with an attorney. An attorney can examine whether your rights were violated at any point or identify another strategy to eliminate or minimize the penalties you face.

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