Understanding DUI Tests
Oct. 24, 2023
When it comes to drinking and driving, all states except one agree on one thing: a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher is considered driving under the influence (DUI). The lone exception is Utah, where the standard is even stricter at 0.05 percent.
In most states, including Kansas, if law enforcement officials can get a BAC reading of 0.08 percent or higher through a breath, blood, or urine test, then that is considered a per se DUI. This means that, basically, no other evidence for conviction is needed except the test results.
This begs the question of whether you as a pulled-over driver can refuse any roadside tests if the police officer, or officers, believe you were driving impaired. At the scene, generally two types of tests can and will be administered: a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test. The field sobriety test consists of a series of physical challenges directed and observed by police. The breathalyzer test requires you to exhale into a hand-held device that measures your BAC.
The answer to whether you can refuse is yes, no, and maybe, depending on the test and circumstances. When you receive your driver’s license, under Kansas law, you are giving what is called your “implied consent” to blood, breath, and urine tests. The field sobriety test is more optional, but refusing any roadside test can lead to officers hauling you in for a test conducted by medical professionals, one which you cannot refuse.
If you are facing a DUI charge in or around Lawrence, Kansas, contact me immediately at Chahine Legal LLC. I have more than 20 years’ experience in defending Kansans against DUI charges and helping them navigate the justice system to obtain the best result possible. I also proudly serve clients in Olathe, Overland Park, Lenexa, and throughout Missouri.
Understanding Implied Consent in Kansas
Kansas law states: “Any person who operates or attempts to operate a vehicle within this state is deemed to have given consent, subject to the provisions of this act, to submit to one or more tests of the person's blood, breath, urine or other bodily substance to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs.”
In other words, when push comes to shove, you can be required to submit to a test of your blood, breath, or urine to determine your BAC. If you refuse, your driving privileges can be suspended for a year; plus, officials may still pursue a DUI charge using other evidence, including the officer’s observation of your impaired driving. Your refusal to take the test might also factor into a conviction.
Blood Alcohol vs. Field Sobriety Tests
The only blood alcohol test available when you’re pulled over is done with a breathalyzer, a device you blow into that measures the alcohol on your breath, so to speak, giving a BAC reading. A field sobriety test, on the other hand, is more of a physical challenge to determine if you’re impaired.
Often sarcastically referred to as “Roadside Olympics,” a field sobriety test usually consists of three challenges: walk and turn, horizontal gaze, and the one-leg stand. The walk and turn involves walking heel-to-toe forward and then turning around and walking back heel-to-toe. The horizontal gaze or Nystagmus test measures movements of the eyes in tracking a moving object such as a pen. The one-legged standard is just that—being forced to stand on one leg to see how well you hold old.
Very sober people can fail any or all of these field sobriety tests due to age, medications, or physical or emotional issues. You can refuse these tests, but as mentioned earlier, the officer may then just turn to the breathalyzer or bring you in for testing. If you refuse a roadside breathalyzer test, you have broken your implied consent promise and will no doubt be taken in.
Consequences of a Refusal
To repeat, if you renege on your implied consent to a blood, breath, or urine test, then you can have your driving privileges stripped for a year with no possibility of getting an emergency or restricted permit so you can drive to and from work and medical appointments. Authorities can also pursue a DUI charge based on other evidence.
Speak With an Experienced Attorney
Both breathalyzer and blood and urine tests can be challenged as evidence. Breathalyzers must be regularly calibrated, and officers using them must follow proper procedures. A blood or urine test can also be compromised in its handling and even misidentified. You do have defenses.
Contact me at Chahine Law LLC if you are facing a DUI charge. I will listen to your story and work with you on a strategy aimed at obtaining the best result possible.