The vast majority of DWI cases in New Jersey are based on a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading from breath samples given through a machine called an Alcotest. But there are certain situations where the police will take a blood or urine sample instead. Those situations are usually as follows:
You Have Been Injured
In this instance, you were in an auto accident and were injured. Here, the first concern the police will have is to give you care and immediate medical treatment. During their time at the accident scene, they may gather facts that give them probable cause to believe that you are intoxicated or under the influence of some drug.
This may lead to your arrest, but due to the more immediate need for treatment, you are taken to the hospital first, which most times prevents the collection of breath samples within a reasonable period of time.
In this case, they will accompany you to the hospital and ask medical personnel to draw two samples. Sometimes you are so badly injured that the sample cannot be taken right away because the medical staff are too busy trying to stabilize you or save your life. Blood work is usually done in the course of this treatment, and the results can be obtained by subpoena upon proof of probable cause.
Your Breath Samples Rendered a Low BAC Reading or a 0.00%
An Alcotest machine determines the level of alcohol in your system. But what if you are not impaired by alcohol, but by some other substance, and as such your reading is 0.00%? What if the results of the field sobriety test showed a high level of impairment, but your BAC was low (e.g. 0.02% to 0.05%)?
In these instances, the police may decide to investigate further with the investigation and take you to a hospital to obtain a blood sample for testing.
Your BAC from the Alcotest is Dangerously High
What if the problem is not that your BAC is too low, but that it is too high? What if it is dangerously high? Readings such as 0.28%, for example, may indicate to the police that you need treatment and observation.
This may indicate to them that, left untreated, you could have further health complications or die. In this scenario, they will transport you to the hospital and seek blood samples to validate the Alcotest reading.
You Refused to Give a Blood Sample
Although you do not have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, and can be charged with Refusal if you do, the police may still pursue a BAC reading to support a drunk driving charge. Because a breath sample cannot be taken by force or against your will, but a blood sample can, they may decide to go that route.
So What Do I Do?
If you have been charged with drunk driving in southern New Jersey, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule a free consultation.
If you are looking for more information on New Jersey's drunk driving law, then download my free book, How Much Trouble Am I In? A Guide to New Jersey Drunk Driving Law.