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Points to remember about a DUI breath test and chemical test

Indiana drivers will likely be generally aware of how blood alcohol content level can lead to drunk driving charges and that law enforcement will use a breathalyzer or a blood test to determine the amount of alcohol in the driver's blood. But there are other aspects of the breath test that drivers should understand, particularly if they are arrested for operating under the influence and need to formulate a strong defense against the charges.

When a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion that a driver was under the influence when there was a fatal accident or an accident with serious bodily injury, a portable breath test or chemical test will be offered to the driver. The officer will first offer the breath test. If the following circumstances occur after the breath test - they show the presence of alcohol; there is not an indication that the driver had consumed alcohol, but the officer has probable cause that the person is under the influence of another substance that resulted in intoxication; or the person commits breath test refusal - the officer will then offer a chemical test.

The officer can offer that the driver take the breath test or the chemical test more than one time. The chemical tests are required to have been given within three hours of the accident. The officer is not required to make these offers if the driver who is suspected to have been under the influence is unconscious.

Drivers who are in an accident and there is another person who was killed or suffered a serious bodily injury should know that law enforcement has the right to request that the driver take these tests to determine whether he or she is under the influence. The laws regarding officers offering these tests to drivers can be essential to the case after an arrest and when the case comes to trial. For anyone who is confronted with drunk driving allegations, the penalties for a conviction are substantial. If there was a mistake made during the arrest process or protocol was not followed, it can help the defense. Discussing a case with an attorney is imperative to crafting a defense.

Source: iga.in.gov, "IC 9-30-7-3 -- Offer of test; administration of test," accessed on Sept. 18, 2017

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