4 Misconceptions About Breathalyzer Tests

4 Misconceptions About Breathalyzer Tests

Car Accident Lawyer

When you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, the officer may have you take several field sobriety tests, including a breathalyzer. This equipment reads your blood alcohol level by measuring how much gaseous alcohol is present in the air sacs of the lungs. Despite the simplicity of the test, there are still a few common misconceptions you may have that could affect the outcome of your DWI case.

1. Blowing Below the Legal Limit Equals No Conviction 

The legal blood alcohol limit for most states is .08 percent, so if you blew below that amount, you may believe you cannot be convicted of a drunk driving charge. However, since alcohol affects everyone differently depending on their tolerance, you may have been visibly impaired despite the reading. For example, if an officer pulled you over for swerving and you blow a .06, the combined actions could result in a conviction.

2. You Can Refuse a Breathalyzer Test 

If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving and are asked to take a breathalyzer test, you may believe you have the right to refuse. While it is true that the officer cannot force you unless he or she obtains an electronic warrant from a judge, a refusal could have serious consequences, including the suspension or cancellation of your driver’s license. Many states recognize what is called implied consent, where it is understood that you consent to any field sobriety test in exchange for your driving privileges.

3. You Can Prove You Were Not Impaired 

If you blew below a .08 during a traffic stop, you may believe you can prove your innocence in court by stating you were not impaired, using the low blow as evidence. However, some judges may proceed to convict you based on the reasons why the officer pulled you over, such as unsafe lane changes or speeding. If the officer can prove the slightest impairment despite your BAC, this could result in a conviction.

4. Breathalyzer Tests Are Not Acceptable Court Evidence 

Some states do not allow breathalyzer test results as evidence to prove or disprove a drunk driving charge. While you may believe this works in your favor, this rule usually only applies to readings taken from a driver’s personal unit. The arresting officer may introduce his or her police report into evidence, which could include the results noted at the time of the test.

Breathalyzer tests are designed to measure the level of alcohol in your system when you are suspected of drunk driving, but there may be ways to fight your charge. Contact a DWI attorney in Washington, DC today for further assistance.

Thanks to The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and breathalyzer tests.