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Guide to Blood and Urine Testing After a DWI Stop in New Jersey

After a DWI stop, the police often want drivers to submit to some form of chemical testing. While breath testing is perhaps the most common and preferred method, it is not the only one.

The police might ask a driver stopped for a DWI to submit to blood or urine testing instead of breath testing. The reasons for blood or urine testing might vary, but the rules are somewhat different than for breath testing. Breath testing is mandatory under New Jersey’s implied consent laws. This law does not cover blood and urine samples, and the police need a warrant or the driver’s consent for blood or urine samples for testing. The police might be permitted to use some degree of force to get samples for testing, but the force must be reasonable. If the police use unreasonable force or do not have a warrant or consent, contact an attorney immediately.

Schedule a case review for no charge with our New Jersey DWI defense lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates by calling (609) 257-4019.

When Do the Police Use Blood or Urine Testing After a DWI Stop in New Jersey

Law enforcement tends to prefer breath testing as a form of chemical testing after a DWI stop. Under New Jersey’s implied consent law, breath testing post-arrest is required by law, and drivers impliedly consent to such testing by virtue of driving on public roads. However, the law goes on to mention that urine and blood testing are also possible, but the law of implied consent does not govern them.

Blood and urine testing for DWIs is less common because they are usually more difficult for law enforcement. Not only is there no implied consent law, but getting samples for testing often requires medical professionals.

Certain situations might necessitate blood or urine testing instead of breath testing. For example, suppose a driver caused a severe accident and was rushed to the hospital for treatment, but the police suspect the driver was intoxicated. In such a case, it would not be feasible to take the driver to the police station for breath testing since they need to remain in the hospital. In that case, blood or urine samples might be tested instead.

This testing might also be necessary if the breath testing equipment is unavailable or malfunctioning. Breath testing devices used post-arrest (as opposed to portable breath testing used roadside) are large and complicated. While the police are supposed to keep them in working order, things might go wrong, and the police might have no choice but to request blood or urine samples for testing.

Additionally, urine testing is more common in cases involving controlled substances rather than alcohol. The presence of drugs may be detected more easily in urine samples, and drug testing in various contexts (e.g., random drug testing at work) often involves urine samples.

Requirements for Blood and Urine Testing in New Jersey After a DWI Stop

In New Jersey, chemical testing of blood and urine samples is not ruled by the implied consent law. In short, the police need a warrant unless you consent to give the samples or there are special circumstances present that would allow the police to take the samples without a warrant.

Identifying an exigent or emergency circumstance that would allow the police to circumvent the need for a warrant can be difficult. One very common claim among law enforcement officials is that since alcohol in the blood will dissipate over time, the police must get a blood draw as quickly as possible. While many police officers might argue that this constitutes an emergency or exigent circumstance, the Supreme Court of the United States disagrees.

In the 2013 SCOTUS case of Missouri v. McNeely, the Supreme Court decided that law enforcement officials need a search warrant to take blood samples, barring emergency circumstances, and that the fact that alcohol will dissipate in the blood over time is not itself an emergency circumstance. This means that the police cannot take a blood sample against your will simply because they are in a time crunch. There must be some other circumstances that make the situation an emergency.

What to Do if the Police Forced You to Submit to Blood or Urine Testing in New Jersey

While the above laws and case law make it difficult for the police to take blood samples without your consent, it is not impossible. Suppose the police ask your permission to take blood samples for testing, and you refuse. If the police can claim an emergency circumstance exists that necessitates the blood samples without a warrant, they may use reasonable force to get the samples.

Reasonable force might also be permissible if the police had a warrant for the blood or urine sample, but the driver refused to provide the sample willingly. Identifying unreasonable force in such a situation might be challenging; of course, the police will always believe their use of force is reasonable.

If the police took a blood or urine sample without a warrant, without consent, or using any degree of force, speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Your Trenton DWI defense lawyer can help you figure out if the force used by law enforcement was unreasonable.

If the police seized your blood or urine samples under the above conditions, they might be in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. Such a violation might render the evidence (i.e., your BAC measurements) tainted, and we can file a motion to have that evidence excluded from your trial.

Call Our New Jersey DWI Defense Attorneys About Your Case

Schedule a case review at no cost to you with our Mt. Holly DWI defense lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates by calling (609) 257-4019.