Just how busy are Idaho’s law enforcement officers this time of the year? As my Dad used to say, "busier than a one-legged man at a butt kickin’ contest." The Idaho Statesman reports that Idaho DUI arrests have doubled over the past five years, the average number of arrests has risen to around 600 per year, and of those, half will be repeat offenders. So let’s talk about what you should do if you are stopped and asked to take the breathalyzer. If you refuse the breath test there will not be a "record" of your BAC level, which might make it more difficult to convict you in a criminal trial, but it will also result in the Department of Transportation suspending your license, absolutely (as in no driving at all) for a year. That year runs in addition (or consecutive) to any suspension imposed by the court in a criminal case, if one is brought. And then there is the mindset that anyone who refuses is likely guilty. Jurors always consider your refusal, even if they tell your lawyer they will not. If you do take the breathalyzer test, there are consequences too – most importantly – there will be some record that can be used as evidence against you at trial – no matter what the BAC level actually is. If you blow above .08 DOT will suspend your license for 90 days, the first 30 absolute. And of course at trial the prosecutor will have a "per se" case, that is a case in which the proof of a BAC above .08 violates the law, leaving you to attack the BAC, the Breathalyzer and perhaps the way the sample was collected. If the level is above .20, the enhanced DUI provisions of the law apply, likely making your punishment greater if you are convicted. So should you take the test? My general answer is yes – unless you are so incredibly drunk that you will certainly blow above the .20. But if you are that drunk, you probably won’t be sufficiently aware enough to refuse the test.
The key here is simple – there must be proof that you were driving under the influence or driving above .08 – and if you blow above .08 – well that case is easier to prove than a "no blow." If you blow below the .08, you won’t get charged, but you will not know your BAC level unless you blow. Then there is the problem of the blood draw – if you refuse to blow there may be circumstances that entitle the officer to require you to submit to a blood draw. So there is no easy answer here.
If you blow or don’t blow and get arrested, pull out the wallet and hire the best Idaho criminal defense lawyer you can afford. There is just too much riding on this to do it yourself. And BEFORE you hire any lawyer, check out my article here on what to ask that lawyer who wants to handle your case.
Remember – that nice prosecutor wants to take away your driving privileges and send you to jail. DUI cases are not easy to win as a defendant, so the best advice is to NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE. Failing that advice, check out my prior report on how the deck is stacked against you if you are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (click here).
Got a question about DUI? Send me a comment OR CALL NOW TO DISCUSS YOUR CASE.