If I Refuse to Take a DUI Breath Test or Blood Test, Can I Get a Work Permit?

Besides the temporary permit you may receive (if your permanent driver’s license is taken by the police as noted above) as a result of a DUI test refusal, another option may exist for you to be able to legally drive following a license suspension after a DUI-DWI stop. If available, you will be required to prove that you “qualify” for conditional or limited driving privileges.

In most states, if your arrest for DUI-DWI is a first one in your lifetime, there are circumstances under which you may have a limited or restricted driver’s license reissued to you if you meet certain criteria (such as true necessity), no other travel sources are available to you, a lack of other circumstances attendant to your arrest, and/or to attend further alcohol or drug testing or treatment. Often, the reissuance of a limited permit will only be allowed after 30, 60 or 90 days. One of the requirements may be for you to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation.

In other jurisdictions, any refusal that occurs can be a basis for a total deprivation of driving privileges for a fixed period of time. The length of total suspension (or revocation) can be 90 days, 180 days, one year or possibly younger, depending if this is your first alcohol related offense or a repeat offense (involving a prior administrative suspension or revocation).

You may be able to obtain a special exemption and get a restricted driver’s license to continue traveling to work. The issuance of restricted privileges to drive may be at the discretion of the court, and not by your choice, and not within the control of your attorney. The issuance of restricted driving privileges may be set by state statute, with defined guidelines for eligibility.

Certainly, the basic requirements are that you have a job that requires you to drive and that you have no other reasonable way to get around without a driver’s license. However, such a restricted license also typically severely limits your ability to drive for non-work purposes, and determines where and when you can operate a vehicle. Thus, a work permit may help you with some of the problems you face following your DUI-DWI arrest, but is seldom the solution to all of your problems.

If you have any other specific questions, ask the DUI attorney handling your case regarding your state’s rules. Your lawyer will be able to tell you the specifics regarding your limited driving rights, and the procedure for getting a limited license back if possible.

Can the Police Force Me to Take a Breath Test or Blood Test?

In most states, unless someone was seriously injured or killed as a result of an accident related to your DUI-DWI arrest, you typically have the right to refuse to allow the police to take a blood, breath or urine sample from you. In other words, the drawing of your blood, or the taking of a breath or a urine sample by the police must typically be voluntary. However, if you are incapacitated, either because you are unconscious, incoherent or unable to consent for whatever reason (including being too intoxicated to consent or refuse), you lose your right to refuse such samples being taken from you in most states. In Mississippi and Tennessee, although the police can still obtain blood or urine samples for testing if you are unconscious or incapable of refusing, these results may not be used against you in court.

Florida’s courts have ruled that absent a felony arrest, forcible draws of blood or urine are not authorized. Georgia has recently handed down the most sweeping protections for the suspected DUI-DWI driver who has refused testing based upon either a felony arrest or a misdemeanor so long as no injured victim of an accident you caused has visible serious injuries. “No” means “NO” in Georgia.

A frightening trend, now seen in more than a dozen states, wherein a person who refuses breath testing can now be restrained or even physically harmed to forcibly draw blood or use a catheter in the person for a urine sample. Plus, some states will penalize the person who refuses testing by suspending or revoking his or her license, and still forcibly draw blood. Typically this occurs when someone has been seriously injured or killed as a result of your motor vehicle accident. Case examples have all cropped up in the past 10 years and foreshadow problems ahead. See also http://www.duiblog.com/2004/11/22#a47.

In numerous states, a person’s initial refusal to submit to testing can be determined to be a “refusal” (causing total loss of driving privileges) even if the police ultimately obtain a test through force or threat of force. In such situations, the driver suffers both an immediate license loss for the refusal and must face the blood or urine test results in court. This is why you must know the law in your state as it applies to implied consent.