Blood alcohol tests are regularly used by law enforcement officials to detect whether or not a person has consumed alcohol, and they are usually given after a person has been pulled over. However, there has always been concern that these tests aren’t entirely accurate. These different types of blood alcohol tests include:
- Breath analysis (breathalyzer)
- Blood sample
- Urine sample
- Preliminary alcohol screening tests
All of these types of blood alcohol tests are typically accurate. If you have been drinking and driving, there is usually little chance that you will “fool” the test or “pass.” The authorities are more than likely to administer multiple different tests, so even if one test were to somehow fail, law enforcement will have more than one way to help ensure a solid case.
There are instances of tests producing misleading results because the driver may have diabetes and high blood ketones or the driver took cough medicine before they got behind the wheel. Though false results are not common, they do occur. The best way to pass a blood alcohol test when getting pulled over for drinking and driving is to not get behind the wheel when you consumed alcohol.
Which Type of Test Is the Most Accurate?
Although all kinds of blood alcohol tests are accurate, the different types of tests have varying degrees of accuracy. A blood sample test is the most accurate while a breathalyzer test is less accurate. This is because a breathalyzer test actually measures your BrAC (Breath Alcohol Content) and not your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content).
Since a blood sample directly measures the alcohol content of your blood, it is, by its own design, going to be far more accurate than any other test. This does not mean that you will have an easier chance to trick a breathalyzer test if you have been drinking and driving. Since alcohol goes into your bloodstream, your body will inevitably take it to your lungs.
From there, the alcohol diffuses from the bloodstream to your lungs and can be found in your breath when you exhale. This goes to show that breathalyzers are still accurate and your hopes to somehow trick them are futile.
What About Human Error?
The most common way for any type of blood alcohol test to produce an inaccurate result would be due to human error. Human error can occur in a handful of ways. This includes:
- Police officers not performing the test correctly
- A delay in either blood or urine sample collection
- Delivery of the sample was delayed
- Lab analysis of the results was incorrect
Any one of these human errors could potentially lead you to be wrongfully charged with DUI if you were not actually drinking or driving or if you did not drink enough to be over the legal limit. It is crucial to work with a skilled DUI lawyer in Los Angeles who can examine your case to determine whether the tests were administered properly.
Are the Field Sobriety Tests Accurate?
Before a blood alcohol test is administered by the authorities, they will have you take part in a series of field sobriety tests. This is to help them determine whether or not there is probable cause to arrest you for a DUI. Like with the different types of blood alcohol tests, people will often call into question the accuracy of these field sobriety tests. The answer is, they are not all that accurate.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in the latest year of reporting, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test was the most accurate of the three standardized tests with only a 77% accuracy rating. The Walk and Turn Test had a 68% accuracy rating while the One Leg Stand Test had a 65% accuracy rating. This illustrates how inaccurate these field sobriety exercises can be.
These field sobriety exercises are more inaccurate than blood alcohol tests due to a number of reasons. This includes:
- The police officer might improperly administer the test
- Environmental conditions (like if it is raining or if its performed at night
- Road conditions (uneven pavement or you may be too close to a busy highway)
- Underlying medical conditions that the officer is unaware of
- Your physical fitness may not be the best (like your balance)
- You may be too old to perform these tasks
- Overall anxiety about having to participate in an embarrassing test in public
You could have a very strong defense case if you were wrongly charged with DUI based on the results of a field sobriety test. A DUI attorney can help build that defense for you to help get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether.
Can You Refuse a BAC Test and a Field Sobriety Test?
Some people think that if they refuse to take any tests then there will be no evidence for a DUI against them. However, this is not how it works in the state of California. You are one hundred percent within your legal rights to refuse any field sobriety test that the police officer may try and have you perform.
The officer might try and manipulate you into thinking that there are punishments for refusal. This is not true in the slightest.
You are also allowed to refuse a police officer’s breathalyzer test. Let it be known that by refusing to participate in these the officer is more than likely still going to arrest you under the suspicion of a DUI. Once you are at the police station, you will likely be forced to take part in any chemical blood alcohol test. Refusing to do so can and will result in penalties.
Should You Hire a DUI Lawyer?
You should absolutely hire a DUI lawyer if you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI. This is especially true if you have been wrongfully charged with DUI to an inaccurate blood alcohol test or a poorly executed field sobriety test. Experienced DUI attorneys will gather additional evidence, interview witnesses, examine police reports, revisit the scene of the crime, and disprove the prosecution’s evidence as being either misleading or illegally obtained.
There is no reason not to hire a DUI attorney when you are facing serious and life-changing charges.