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Refuse you lose

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader


The Allen County Prosecutorís Office recently announced a new policy for any suspected impaired driver who refuses to submit to a breath or blood test. Under the new policy, law enforcement will ask a judicial officer to sign a search warrant ordering law enforcement to obtain a blood sample from a person who has refused. That means law enforcement and/or medical personnel can then take any necessary measures to get a blood sample from that person. The Prosecutorís policy makes sense. The policy also means that police officers, prosecutors and judicial officers will have even more late night work to do.

In Indiana, a person who refuses to submit to a blood, urine or breath test commits a Class C infraction. If the person has a prior conviction for operating while intoxicated and he refuses, he commits a Class A infraction. A person canít go to jail for an infraction, but the maximum fine for a Class C infraction is $500. A Class A infraction carries up to a $10,000 fine. Additionally, a person who refuses a breath or chemical test will lose his license for one year. The person will lose his license for two years if he refuses the breath or chemical test and has a prior conviction for operating while intoxicated.

You might be wondering why a person might refuse to give a breath, blood or urine sample. Some people refuse because they are concerned that they drank too much. Others refuse because they think they have the right to consult with an attorney before making a decision. Some say no because they are afraid of needles. Regardless of the reasons for the refusal, a police officer with a search warrant will get the blood sample. Once the sample is obtained it will be sent to a laboratory for testing. If a person continues to refuse even after a warrant is obtained, he could be held in contempt and given a jail sentence. A person could even be charged with an additional crime, such as resisting law enforcement or obstruction.

Why blood? Well, itís easier to hold someone down and stick a needle in his arm than it is to make him blow into a machine for several seconds.

So what does all this mean? Let me start with a quick reminder: donít drive if thereís even a remote chance you are impaired or over the legal limit. If you are stopped in Allen County (and most other counties in northeast Indiana and beyond) and refuse a blood or breath test, law enforcement will attempt to obtain an order from a judicial officer requiring law enforcement to get a sample of your blood. By refusing to submit to the test, your license will be suspended for at least one year and maybe up to two years. And the police will still end up getting a sample of your blood.


Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. _This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you.

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