When a police officer suspects you have been drinking and driving, one of their first steps may be to administer a breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC). A competent DUI attorney understands the advantages and drawbacks of the different tests used to determine your BAC. Let a lawyer help debunk any misconceptions you may have about DUI breathalyzer tests in Leesburg.
When someone uses the term “breathalyzer,” they could be speaking about two different instruments. The first instrument that is usually offered as a preliminary breath test is called an Alco-Sensor, which is often referred to as a portable breath test, or PBT.
While a PBT helps a cop decide whether to arrest the driver, it is not considered as reliable as the test administered at the police station, called Intoxilyzer EC/IR II breathalyzer. For this reason, the results of a PBT are inadmissible in court.
An experienced attorney could explain the factors that may make PBT breathalyzers unreliable for measuring BAL.
The presence of mouth alcohol indicates that someone recently consumed alcohol. Alcohol from drinks, food, or tobacco can get stuck in the teeth or dentures, and residual alcohol on the breathalyzer device could be a sign that breath tests are being taken too close together. In either case, the BAL results may be inadmissible evidence in court.
Another thing that makes it unreliable is that there is not a standardized pressure and duration required like there is with an EC/IR II. Sometimes, an officer who collects a reasonable breath sample from someone may try to infer later that the reading would have been higher if the person had blown harder.
Additionally, there is no standardized method for how the PBTs are maintained. They are often kept in case in the trunk of an officer’s car. Changing weather conditions could impact the reliability of any piece of mechanical equipment left in the trunk of a car.
On the other hand, the Intoxilyzer EC/IR II breathalyzer tests given at the police station are far more reliable and are often used in court, assuming the officer followed proper protocol when making the arrest. They do have a standardized pressure and duration, which makes them more trusted.
Two of the most common misconceptions about breathalyzers are: the driver has to take the tests, and their refusal would lead to legal repercussions. Neither of these things regarding DUI breathalyzer tests is true, and if a police officer claimed they were, a dedicated attorney could use that to strengthen the defendant’s case in court.
If someone is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may believe they have a legal obligation to take that test. This is not true. The officer, by law, must offer it to them prior to making an arrest decision for suspicion of drunk driving, but the driver is not required to take the test. While the officer must inform the person that the results are not admissible at trial, they do not have to tell them that they have the right to refuse the test.
The second misconception about breathalyzer tests in our area is that if someone refuses to submit to this field sobriety test, they could receive an additional charge. This is not true. However, if the officers inform the driver of their implied consent rights, and they refuse to take the EC/IR II test at the station, they would receive an additional charge of unreasonable refusal. The driver could still be tested if the officer obtains a search warrant and transports them to the hospital for a blood test.
Getting pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving is nerve-wracking, regardless of how much you had to drink before getting behind the wheel. A skilled attorney could help you understand your rights regarding DUI breathalyzer tests in Leesburg. Reach out for help with building your defense today.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law