TESTING BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT: BLOOD TEST v. BREATH TEST
If a California peace officer asks you to stop your car on a suspicion that you are driving under influence, he is likely to ask you if you have been drinking, how many drinks you have had, and how long ago. The officer may require you to step out of the car and take one or more Field Sobriety Tests (FST). Next the officer may request you to blow into a handheld Breathalyzer like an Authorized Screen Test (AST) devise or a Preliminary Alcohol Sensor (PAS) devise. The officer must inform you that you have a right to refuse giving the breath sample as it is not mandatory to do so.
On failing a breath test or unsatisfactory performance on the FST exercises you may be arrested on a DUI, and taken to the police station or a hospital to take a blood test for testing the concentration of alcohol in blood. Prior to taking you for the blood test the arresting officer must inform you of your right to remain silent, obtain legal representation etc.
You may not want to take a breath test if you if the last drink you had was within an hour of testing. This is because mouth alcohol can cause high breath test readings.
This decision is further complicated by so many other factors such as the amount of alcohol you have consumed and your body’s rate of absorption of alcohol which depends on the time elapsed since the last drink, your body size, body temperature, smoking and drinking habits, diseases like hemophilia or acid reflux disease etc.
The accuracy of a handheld breath testing device is questionable. Scientific surveys indicate that breath test devices or PAS tests are only 64-77% accurate. Therefore, one out of every four persons arrested on a DUI charge based on a failed breath test may not be guilty. Comparatively, the blood test taken at the police station or hospital is fairly accurate. Breath tests are voluntary while chemical tests conducted at the police station are mandatory.
A refusal to take the blood test without reasonable excuse is an offense punishable with suspension of driving privileges for a year and/or fine and may weaken your case if guilt is inferred from the refusal. Moreover, in California, courts have allowed the police to restrain a person and forcefully take a persons blood without their permission and then turn around and charge them for refusing to give blood voluntarily.
Scott D. Hughes, an Orange County DUI lawyer has several years of experience handling DUI cases, and understands the situation you are in, and can deal with the DMV and the Court on your behalf and ensure that your driving privileges are restored. Contact the law office of Scott D. Hughes for a free consultation.