Welcome back to another interesting blog post from the criminal defense law firm of Johnson Law Office, P.C., located in Hamilton County, Indiana. The topic for today is the usage of the word “chemical test” by a police officer. What exactly does that term mean? Let’s set this up: a police officer pulls you over, smells alcohol or marijuana on your breath or person, administers several field sobriety tests, and then informs you that they have probable cause to believe that you have operated a vehicle while intoxicated, and that they must now offer you a “chemical test”. What does the officer mean by the term “chemical test?” Basically, it means that the officer is either going to take you to a local hospital or to the county jail to have someone draw a blood sample from you, or the officer is going to take you to the county jail or other police station where they have a breathalyzer (EC/IR) chemical breath test instrument.
When an officer asks a DUI suspect if he/she wants to take a chemical test, it is not uncommon for the suspect to ask what is meant by the term “chemical test.” If the officer basically responds that the officer is going to give the suspect either a breath test or a blood test, that would eliminate a great deal of confusion. I have had several clients who sought clarification from the officer as to what was meant by the term “chemical test” only to not have their question be answered. The good-faith question about the mysterious chemical test arises sometimes because the DUI suspect is on various medications–all of which are chemicals–and the suspect does not know if in this impending “chemical test”, will he be ingesting or inhaling something that has chemicals in it? Without further explanation by the officer, it is reasonable for a person to be concerned about possible physiological consequences of the “chemical test” being offered.
I would suggest a simple solution: when a police officer is reading the Indiana Implied Consent to a DUI suspect, eliminate the words “chemical test” and replace them with the words “breathalyzer or blood test”. There, that was easy.
If you have been arrested for a drug crime or drunk driving/OVWI/DUI in Central Indiana, particularly in Hamilton County, Indiana, call Criminal Defense Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Law Office, P.C. at 317.536.6268.