Testing Methods When Arrested for DUI

duiupdateIf the police pull you over and have any reason to suspect that you have been drinking or using drugs (odor of alcohol/marijuana, bloodshot, and slurred speech are the most common indicators), it is a virtual certainty that your evening is ultimately going to end with a police request that you to submit to a chemical test of your blood or breath.

The manner and location of testing is not uniform across all Pennsylvania police departments – depending on the department and the circumstances of the stop, options include blood, urine or breath tests and are determined by the police – generally speaking you do not get to choose.


The law says that all drivers, by accepting a license, have impliedly consented to chemical testing upon request of a law enforcement official. Refusal to take a requested chemical test can mean big trouble – a license suspension from PennDOT simply for declining to take the test, in addition to a DUI charge at the highest level of intoxication. But the law does provide you with additional testing method options in addition to the test required by the officer.


The Superior Court recently provided some clarity on this issue in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Barker. In that case, a driver who was a brittle diabetic refused to consent to a blood test due to his medical condition, and requested a breath, urine, or hair follicle test instead. The police officer declined to permit an alternative test, and the driver was charged and convicted of DUI based solely on the police officer’s observations of the driver’s appearance and behavior.

The Superior Court overturned his conviction, and pointed out that any driver involved in an accident or arrested for DUI has the right to request and receive a test of their blood, urine, or breath, if practicable. In addition, a driver charged with DUI may also seek an independent test from a physician of his/her choosing, so long as doing so does not delay the test requested by the police.

By refusing to allow Mr. Barker to take an alternative test, the police essentially prevented him from presenting a defense to his DUI charge, and his DUI conviction was overturned.

It is important to note that the Barker case does not grant an unlimited right to choose the method of chemical testing for those placed under arrest for DUI. However, it does permit a driver to request chemical testing in the event of a DUI charge, or to receive testing by a physician of the driver’s choosing in addition to what is requested by police.


If you have any questions regarding this or any other aspect of the Pennsylvania DUI law, call the Law Offices of James W. Flood, P.C. at 610.945.9456 Our lawyers are up to date with all of the recent changes in the law. We can explore all possible defenses, as well as any alternative programs which may be available to you.

Posted on December 29, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Testing Methods When Arrested for DUI.

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