A DUI charge can tarnish your driving record, significantly increase your insurance rates and leave you facing heavy fines and even potential jail time. A breathalyzer test is something you may hear about or experience as part of a traffic stop for a suspected DUI. You may wonder what you can do if you must undergo a breathalyzer test and how to pass one.
The truth is there is only one sure-fire way to pass a breathalyzer test and that is to avoid drinking and driving altogether. Understanding how a breathalyzer works and when you must take the breathalyzer test can help you if you find yourself in a situation where an officer suspects you are under the influence while behind the wheel of a car.
What Is a Breathalyzer Test and How Does It Work?
A breathalyzer test is a device that measures the level of alcohol in your blood. The output of the device measures BAC or blood alcohol concentration. To take the test, you will blow into the mouthpiece of a device according to the instructions by an officer, which will then reveal how much alcohol is in your system at the time.
It is important to note there are different types of breath alcohol tests. A preliminary breathalyzer test is what a police officer will use at the scene after they pull you over for a possible DUI; it is a handheld device that gives an immediate readout. A chemical breathalyzer test, although it may appear similar, uses a different technology and is a more accurate test.
What Does a Breathalyzer Test Detect?
A breathalyzer will not detect drugs such as marijuana, prescription medications, or other substances it can and will only detect the presence of alcohol in an individual’s blood.
Are Breathalyzer Tests Immediately Effective?
The absorption of alcohol into the blood is not instantaneous; it does take some time, on average about 15 minutes, for alcohol to show up on a breathalyzer test after the person has had a drink. Once some time has passed from consuming an alcoholic drink, the alcohol can remain in your system for up to 24 hours, although as time passes, the level of alcohol in the blood will dissipate.
Who Can Ask You to Take a Breathalyzer Test?
In the circumstances of motor vehicle driving, it is a police officer that will have the authority to request you to take a breathalyzer test. If an officer suspects you are under the influence, they may ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test also known as a preliminary breath test.
Furthermore, if you are put under arrest for suspected DUI, you must take an additional breathalyzer test known as the chemical breath test once the police take you to the police station for processing and intake.
Does the Timing of a Request for a Breathalyzer Test Matter?
Yes. The law treats the type of breathalyzer test administered and the stage at which an officer asks you to submit to the test very differently. In California, you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer if you are at a DUI stop by an officer. Field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests done by police officers if they suspect a DUI are simply a means for them to gather sufficient probable cause to make an arrest. These tests are historically inaccurate and administered unfairly.
California law allows you to refuse the preliminary blood test by an officer at the scene without fear of penalty. However, if an officer still places you under arrest for suspicion of DUI when they take you into the station and request a chemical breath test, the protections under the law do not apply to this test, as it is mandatory as part of your arrest. Your refusal to submit to a chemical breath test at the police station can be subject to additional punishment and penalties under the law.
What Is the Best Way to Pass a Breathalyzer Test?
There are many tactics that some will claim can help you pass a breathalyzer test. The reality is that many of these tactics are just myths and, in some cases, the techniques they claim will help you lower the readings can actually have the inverse effect and result in a higher BAC.
The absolutely best way to pass a breathalyzer test is to not drink if you are getting behind the wheel of a car or to limit your consumption of alcohol to stay within the legal limits of BAC.
In some cases, you may be able to avoid arrest for a DUI by refusing the preliminary breathalyzer test at the scene. In fact, an individual should always refuse this test by a police officer prior to arrest. In many cases, the officer is using the test to get the probable cause they need to proceed with an arrest. If you refuse the test and they lack any other evidence, they may be unable to arrest you or the arrest may be invalid in the future if an officer’s actions are outside the parameters of the law.
When Should You Contact a Lawyer for Breathalyzer-Related Concerns?
If you have been arrested for a DUI and undergo a breathalyzer test, you must contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible following your arrest. Do not subject yourself to questioning without an attorney to advise you. A DUI attorney can help you with your case and may be able to assist you with the results of a breathalyzer test.
A DUI Attorney May Be Able to Fight Breathalyzer Results
Conviction of a DUI can have a significant impact on your future but there are circumstances in which a lawyer can fight the results of these tests. It is not uncommon for a court to deem the results of a breathalyzer test invalid whether due to malfunction, inaccuracies, or improper administration. After an arrest for DUI, call a Los Angeles DUI attorney for a consultation on your case.