Alabama DUI: Refusal to Take a Blood, Breath or Urine Test

In Alabama, if you get pulled over for a DUI and the officer asks you to take a blood, a breath, or a urine test, do you have to take one? What happens if you refuse?

Implied Consent

Alabama law requires you to take a breath, blood, or urine test if you are arrested for a DUI.  Alabama’s “implied consent” law says that just by driving on public road, you consent to taking a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content (BAC) if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that you have been driving under the influence. At the time of the arrest, the officer should tell you that if you refuse to take the test, your license will be suspended for 90 days.

Which test you must take depends on the protocol of the law enforcement agency pulled you over. If you the officer requests that you take a blood test, but you object to having your blood taken, you will be required to take a breath or urine test. In Alabama, even being dead or unconscious does not protect you from this requirement – the law enforcement agency can still administer the test.

You can read Alabama’s implied consent law in the Code of Alabama Section 32-5-192.

Refusing to Take the Test

 

1st Offense

2d Offense

3rd Offense

Refusal to take test

90 day suspension of license

1 year suspension of license

1 year suspension of license

In Alabama, if you refuse to take the test, the state will suspend your driver’s license. The officer who arrested you will make a sworn report saying that he or she had reasonable grounds to believe that you were driving under the influence, that he or she requested that you take the test, and that you refused.  At that point, the state will suspend your license.  If you don’t have a driver’s license, you won’t be able to get one. If it’s your first refusal, the suspension will last 90 days.  For second or subsequent refusals within five years, the suspension will last one year, subject to review – which means it could be longer.  If you  are not convicted on the DUI charge –  for example, if you are acquitted, the charges are dropped, or you are able to reduce the charge -- then the suspension may be reduced or lifted.

When the state suspends your license, it must notify you about the suspension and inform you that you have the right to a hearing about your refusal.  At the hearing, you can discuss whether the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe you were driving under the influence and your refusal to take the test.  However, you won’t be able to discuss whether the officer informed you that refusing the test would cause your license to be suspended – that won’t have any bearing on the hearing.  After the hearing, the suspension of your license will either be confirmed or rescinded.  But even if it is confirmed, you have another way to appeal – you have the right to a file a “petition for review” with the court.

If you refuse a mandatory chemical test in Alabama, but you are a resident of a different state, Alabama will revoke your privilege to drive in Alabama, following the same procedures it uses for residents. Then it will notify your state about what happened and about the actions it took against you.

Should You Refuse to Take a Mandatory DUI Test in Alabama?

It usually does not help you to refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test when you are arrested for a DUI.  In Alabama, you may be tempted to refuse the test because the consequences for refusal are relatively light compared to the consequences of conviction of a DUI. However, refusing the test does not guarantee that you won’t be convicted -- you can still be found guilty of a DUI even if your refusal means that the state does not have proof that your BAC was over .08%, the legal limit for those over 21. In fact, the prosecution can use your refusal against you by arguing that you refused the test because knew that you were intoxicated and guilty of DUI.

Get Help With Your DUI

If you have been arrested on a DUI charge in Alabama or any other state, get help from an experienced DUI attorney.  Unlike other traffic related charges which might be worth fighting without a lawyer, conviction for a DUIs has serious consequences – especially if the incident involved injury to people or property or if it’s your second or subsequent DUI. To avoid or reduce the consequences, your best bet is to find an attorney who is knowledgeable about your state’s laws and about how the system works in your county’s court. 

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