While You have the Right to Refuse a Breathalyzer, doing so can Result in the Suspension of Your Driver’s License

Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired (DWI) are serious traffic crimes that refer to driving while impaired by the effects of either alcohol or drugs (illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs). Some states use DWI and DUI interchangeably to refer to the same crime, others, on the other hand, differentiate between the two, using DUI to signify lesser intoxication.

In all U.S. states the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level limit is 0.08% (this is usually reached after consuming about four regular bottles of beer within an hour). A driver who registers a 0.08% BAC level will be considered alcohol-impaired and charged with DUI or, in some states, DWI if his/her BAC level is higher than 0.08%.

A traffic enforcer or any police officer has the authority to stop a driver suspected of drunk driving; he also has the authority to require a driver to undergo sobriety tests, like standing on one leg and walking in a straight line he/she can also require a driver to submit to a breathalyzer test. In the website of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) Traffic Safety Facts, it is said that as part of the evidence-gathering process for an impaired driving investigation, a law enforcement officer typically requests a breath sample from the driver. All States have some form of an implied consent  law, which provides that as part of accepting the agreement for receiving a license, a driver agrees to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample when properly requested.

As explained by the law firm Truslow & Truslow, drivers do have the legal right to refuse a breathalyzer test. However, refusal of the test does come with some costly consequences. Drivers who refuse the test will have their license immediately reprimanded and suspended for at least six months. This suspension period is based on your past driving record and whether you have previously refused a breathalyzer test. Refusing the test may not always be a wise decision, and it is best to consult with your attorney before any action after an arrest.

One important thing everyone needs to know about professional-grade breathalyzer devices, however, is that though this is believed to be highly accurate and sensitive, there are important factors that need to be consider when using these on suspected drunk drivers:

  1. These breathalyzers require periodic calibration in order to maintain accurate readings; failure to calibrate these on regular basis can affect BAC analysis.
  1. Breathalyzers can definitely measure alcohol which is present in alcoholic drinks; however, it will also give measurable BAC readings if one consumes food cooked in alcohol, or uses substances that contain (even small amounts of) alcohol, like toothache medicines and mouthwash.
  1. Acetone, which is detectable in the breath of those on high protein diets and diabetics, and other compounds that have a molecular structure similar to alcohol, may result to BAC readings. Besides these, adhesives, plastics, varnish, paint fumes, and cleaning chemicals with rubbing alcohol, can also produce false BAC results.

No matter the offense, criminal charges at any level should be taken seriously. This is because a person, who has been charged with, or is under investigation for, a crime can suffer serious prejudices in life even after he/she has already served his/her sentence. Thus, whether a case would be heard in a Municipal, Magistrate, State, or Federal court, having a dedicated and qualified criminal defense attorney to defend your case may save you from getting convicted and your future, from getting ruined.

 

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