How Does the Breathalyzer Test Work?

In Florida, the legal drinking limit for drivers is 0.08%. Those who are found to be driving with a higher BAC (blood alcohol concentration) are considered to be driving under the influence (DUI). A DUI arrest often begins with a routine traffic stop. The police officer may determine that there is cause to think you may be driving under the influence. First, the officer will talk to you and may ask whether you’ve been drinking. Then, he may request that you exit the vehicle and perform some roadside sobriety tests. These tests consist of such things as walking a straight line or reciting the alphabet. If the officer feels you are intoxicated he will request that you take a breathalyzer test.

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

Technically speaking, you can refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test. However, Florida has an implied consent law. When you accept your driver’s license you agree to consent to BAC testing if requested by a police officer. In short, you must take a breath, urine, or blood test if you are asked to do so by police. If you refuse, you’ll be charged with a separate crime, which, if found guilty, carries a mandatory driver’s license suspension for a period of a year. In most cases, it is best to submit to a breath test, even if you feel you may be over the limit. However, there are some circumstances when taking the test may not be prudent. For example, if you have had several previous DUI convictions you’ll be facing stiffer penalties than most if found guilty of DUI.

Taking a Breathalyzer Test

Law enforcement uses breathalyzer tests because they are very easy to complete in the field. To take a breath test you’ll be asked to blow into a small device. The unit calculates the BAC and delivers an immediate number. Police will use the results of this test to decide how to proceed. If you’re over the limit of 0.08% (0.02% for those under the age of 21) you’ll be arrested and processed for DUI. The breathalyzer test is rather accurate, however, the test must be done properly and the unit itself must be properly maintained. Often, police will use the breath test as a preliminary test and then ask you to submit to a blood test at the police station. A blood test is usually considered to be the most accurate of the BAC tests.

Defending DUI Charges

DUI charges are serious and carry stiff penalties upon conviction. It’s usually advisable to seek professional representation from an experienced DUI attorney. Your lawyer will review every aspect of your case including the initial traffic stop as well as how the breathalyzer testing was done. Your attorney will also look into the results of the test and how they were analyzed. Sometimes an independent test can be done to dispute the official results. The defense strategy will be determined by the details of your case – every case is different. Your attorney will work to resolve your DUI in the best possible way.