Is It Advisable to Undergo or Refuse a Chemical Test during a DUI Investigation?
Interviewer: Back when I was in college everyone would always say, “If you ever get pulled over, refuse, refuse.” Now I find that it’s a different story. You’re pretty much required to do that. If you refuse you’re going to face some serious penalties, am I correct?
It Is Advisable to Undergo a Chemical Test
Matthew Nebeker: My advice is and what I would do if I found myself in that situation is I would submit to the chemical test. When I say chemical test, I mean the officer’s request for a breath test, a blood test, or a urine test.
It Is Advisable to Decline to Perform the Field Sobriety Tests
However, I would not do the field sobriety test. I don’t believe in them. You’re not required to submit to the field sobriety tests, but you are required to submit to the chemical test.
Here’s why I would submit to the chemical test. If you refuse the chemical test, the officer’s going to mark you down as a refusal. You’re going to be dealing with a potential 18 month license suspension, or a three year license suspension, plus the ignition interlock installation, if they found that the officer was reasonable and that you refused.
Police Officers Are Now Able to Easily Obtain an E-Warrant in 15 to 20 Minutes
You have to contend with that, but here’s what most of the officer’s will do. Once you refuse, they will just go get a warrant. They have these e-warrants now days, that makes it really easy for them to get a warrant.
It’s all on the computer. They type their submission, which is their request for a warrant over the computer and it goes to a judge on call. That judge gets it and reviews the submission. They can have a warrant in about 15 to 20 minutes nowadays.
The Warrant Compels the Driver to Submit to a Blood Draw
The police are going to take your blood, whether you like it or not, once they have that warrant. They’ll have five officers hold you down if necessary and stick that needle in your arm with the warrant, to get your blood.
So then you’ve got the refusal you have to deal with, then they have your blood and they have the evidence against you. My advice is to submit to the chemical test. If you’re over the limit, you are in violation of the law. If the police did everything properly and they drew the blood properly, they analyzed the blood properly, and they found that you were over the limit, then that is what it is.
Refusals can be pretty severe in terms of consequences when you lose your license for 18 months to three years.
An Explanation of Your Right to a Hearing at the Driver’s License Division
Interviewer: I’ve heard the term right to request a hearing in relation to DMV or driver’s license division cases. Are these hearings mandatory? Or do they have to actually make an appointment to request it?
Matthew Nebeker: In Utah, that right to a hearing is listed on the bottom of the citation.
If You Disregard the Right to Request a Hearing, Your Driver’s License Is Automatically Suspended
With the DUI citation and the refusal, you are entitled to have a hearing and you have to request the hearing and go to it. If you don’t, then they just automatically suspend your license and under what provision of the law they can.
If it’s a first offense, they suspend the license for 120 days, or 2 years if it’s a second offense. If it’s a refusal, the suspension is for 18 months. If the person that’s cited just ignores it, then they’ll be getting a letter from the driver’s license division saying, “The driver’s license is suspended for this length of time.”
The very first thing that I ask clients is, “Have you sent in that request and how much time do we have to send it in?” Sometimes they wait and call me on the 10th day. I take their information over the phone and fax it in, whether they’re going to hire me or not, just to help them get that hearing. If you don’t request it, you just automatically lose.
Interviewer: Is there a cost to the hearings?
Matthew Nebeker: No. There’s no cost to the hearing. You just have to request it. That’s the biggest thing.