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Do I have to take a breath/blood test if I am arrested for DUI in Utah?

Yes, and no.  Utah's "implied consent" law provides that when a person is given a driver license, it is "implied" that they have consented to provide a blood or breath sample for testing to determine whether they have been driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs..  But this consent can be withdrawn or revoked by the driver.  The more important question is not "can" you refuse submit to a blood or breath test, but "should" you refuse.  Consulting with an experienced Utah criminal attorney about your specific circumstances is important.  But the following general information may be helpful.

When a driver is pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, officers typically will conduct certain standardized field sobriety tests ("FST's").  These tests include a horizontal gaze nystagmus ("HGN") test, a one-legged stand ("OLS") test, and a walk-and-turn ("WAT") test.  These tests are designed to be used to establish probable cause to determine whether the person is under the influence.  If the driver fails these tests, police will consider that failure to establish the probable cause needed to proceed to the next phase of their investigation - obtaining a breath or blood sample to test for the presence of alcohol (or drugs in the case of a blood test).

While you are free to refuse to participate in the field sobriety tests, there are consequences for refusing to provide a blood or breath sample upon request.  Utah's implied consent law provides an 18-month driver license suspension as a penalty for refusing to provide a blood or breath sample for testing upon request.  Even if you are later found not-guilty of the underlying DUI, you may still have your license suspended.

In years past, it often made sense to refuse to take a breath test or give a blood sample.  If a driver refused to comply with a police officer's request to provide a sample, the officer would either have to give up his investigation or go through a rather lengthy process to obtain a warrant to obtain a breath or blood sample from the driver.  Because of the time involved in obtaining a warrant, in some cases the results of the subsequent test were no longer valid or helpful to the police prosecution.  But times have changed.

Because of the problems sometimes caused by the lengthy process of getting a warrant, Utah law has been changed to make it easier for police to get a warrant in DUI cases.  An E-Warrant system has been established that allows officers to quickly and easily obtain a warrant allowing the police to seize a blood sample (by force if necessary) from the driver and to test that sample for the presence of alcohol or drugs.

While it will often make sense to refuse to participate in field sobriety tests, it will rarely be beneficial to refuse to provide a breath or blood sample.  The police may still end up getting the tests that they want, and you will be facing an 18-month driver license suspension.

If you are facing charges for DUI in Utah, contact us to see what an experienced criminal defense attorney can do for you.


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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