Idaho DUI FAQ

Idaho DUI Breath Blood Test Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When I was stopped for DUI, the officer asked me questions? Was I required to answer them?

A:No! You have an absolute right to remain silent. Anything you say will always be used against you if it helps the DUI prosecutor’s case in any way. It is generally best to politely decline to answer any of the DUI officer’s questions.

Q: How does the State prove a DUI case?

A There are two ways to prove a person is DUI in Idaho.  The first is through a DUI breath or blood test which is .08 or higher.  The second way to show DUI is impaired driving, usually through an erratic driving pattern such as weaving or a crash.

Q: Are there video cameras in cop cars?

A:  Usually.  Almost all police cars in Idaho have video cameras.  Remember your DUI tests will be on audio and video.  The officer has a microphone on his shirt that records your conversation when he talks with you.  Also if you are in the back of a patrol car (under arrest for DUI)  you are being recorded.  Also your DUI will be on video so if you are stumbling around and/or slurring your speech while performing the sobriety tests, the ability to convince a prosecutor or jury that you were not DUI will be difficult to say the least!  Beating a blood / breath test is only part of the DUI defense. 

Q: The Officer did not read me my rights. Does this mean I will beat the DUI in court?

A:No. An officer is only required to read you your Miranda warnings if you are placed “in custody” before asking you questions. A DUI traffic stop - and the investigation that the DUI officer performs on you - is not legally considered “custody” for the purposes of your Miranda rights. (There are exceptions depending upon the situation.) Again, whether the officer tells you that you have a right to remain silent or not, REMAIN SILENT ANYWAY!

Q: If I’m pulled over for DUI, do I have to do those roadside tests like walking a in a straight line, balancing on one foot, or touching my nose?

A:No, you do not. Those DUI roadside tests, or “field sobriety tests,” are voluntary. You have the absolute right to decline to do them, and you should. This is a situation where you will have to keep your wits about you. The officer may tell you step out of the car and give you instructions that sound like an order. Politely decline to do them and say no more. Do not offer an explanation, just say that “I would prefer not to do them.”  Realize that if you refuse these tests you will likely be hauled into the police station for a breath or blood test.

Q: Do I have to take a DUI blood or breath test?

A: You don’t have to take a DUI breath test. However, if you refuse to take a breath test, your license can be revoked for one year with no work permits allowed.  If you do take the breath test, and you get a result that is over the limit, you can have your license revoked for 90 days on a first offense with no work permits for the first thirty days. This is always a judgment call on your part and there is no right answer as every case is different.

The blood test is complicated.  Beware, some jurisdictions will take you to the hospital and force you to undergo a blood test if you refuse a breath test.  The Idaho Supreme Court has ruled that this draconian forced blood draw is legal, so beware!  Other jurisdictions just treat a decline of a blood test as a normal refusal.  If you are in an accident and someone has been seriously hurt or killed, you will be taken to the hospital and forced to give a blood test.

Whether you take one of these breath / blood tests or not, you have a right to a hearing with the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to determine if your license will be taken away. But whatever you do, don’t go near alcohol and a car at the same time again! The penalties for repeat or multiple offenses can get serious fast.

Q: The officer said I refused the chemical test. What does this mean?

A: Idaho law assumes that if you are driving on the roads of Idaho, you have automatically given consent to have your Blood Alcohol Content evaluated if an officer has reason to believe you have been drinking. This means the DMV has the authority to take away your license if you do not do so. However, at the same time you have the right to refuse the breath test based on your constitutional right to not incriminate yourself. Whether the DMV has a right to take away your license is a separate issue entirely from whether you have committed a crime.

Q: What does “B.A.C.” stand for?

A:B.A.C. is an acronym for “Blood Alcohol Content.” It is a measurement of the amount of alcohol (measured in grams) in your blood. For example, the legal limit of 0.08 is reached when a person has 0.08 grams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of their blood. In the case of the breath test, a 0.08 is reached when a person has 0.08 grams of alcohol in 210 liters of their breath.

Q: I have a DUI charge. How long will I lose my License?

A:1. If you refused the blood or breath test: ONE YEAR
2. If you took the DUI blood or breath test and were .08 or more: 90 DAYS to 6 MONTHS for a first offense. 

Q: What steps should I take to keep my license?

A:You, or your DUI attorney, have seven (7) days from the time of your arrest/citation for DUI to request a hearing with the DMV for a failure of a breath / blood test or with the court for a refusal of a breath / blood test. If you fail to request the hearing, your license will be revoked automatically by default. The 7 day clock begins to run when you receive the Order of Revocation/Temporary Driver’s License which is generally at the time you are arrested.

This temporary license is valid for only 30 days and you must have it on your person to drive.

Q: What happens at the DMV hearing?

A:The DMV hearing officer will decide:

  1. Whether the officer had a valid legal reason to stop your vehicle.
  2. Whether the officer had a valid legal reason to arrest you for DUI.
  3. Whether the blood or breath test result is reliable enough to suspend your driver’s license.
  4. Whether you were fully advised of the law, by the officer, before you took the breath / blood test.

In cases where you refused to take the blood or breath test:

  1. Whether you were fully advised of the law, by the officer, before you refused to take the breath / blood test.
  2. Whether the officer had legal cause to stop your vehicle.
  3. Whether the officer had legal cause to believe you were operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
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