Fear of needles! Is this a refusal for blood testing?

Q: My friend has an intense fear of needles and was in a car accident. He was taken to the hospital and was asked for a blood test. He informed them he was terrified of needles and was willing to do anything…. urine, breath or to figure out a way for a blood test but he had a very strong fear of needles. They said okay and drove him home. Now they are saying he refused and he will lose his license for a year. Is there any kind of disability that they were unaccommodating here? Unwilling to numb or knock him out or something? Surely there is some alternate procedure for people with this phobia that he was denied? (West Newton, PA)

A: You have no choice in PA as to what test is given. If the arresting authority had no breathalyzer machine, they had no choice.  I have had cases where the police honored such a request when they had the test machines at their station. Just about any form of resistance to the request for blood alcohol testing pursuant to a DUI arrest is considered a refusal in PA, under the strict administrative rules of the PA Department of Transportation. The only defense I can imagine to this is if he has a doctor testify of this needle phobia existing prior to the DUI and of prior incidents in which he could not be treated medically with injections. Courts are generally not receptive to arguments like this or other similar ones such as person’s alleging they cannot urinate in a bottle.


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