To blow or not to blow?

If you have been pulled over and the police officer has found reasonable cause to suspect you have been driving while impaired by alcohol, they may ask you to take a breathalyzer test.  These machines measure the amount of alcohol in the blood stream indirectly by testing a sample of the breath to measure the amount of alcohol present.

Some officers may carry hand-held breathalyzer units in the field, however the reports that these units generate can be of dubious accuracy and they are typically only used as a complement to standard field sobriety tests or to justify cause for arrest and subsequent, more accurate chemical testing.  Many police stations also possess a desktop breathalyzer unit.  These units use a different type of technology and produce results accurate enough to justify a criminal DUI charge.

Many DUI law firms will advise you to refuse a breath analysis test under any circumstances.  While it is true that a failing breathalyzer measurement will almost automatically result in a DUI charge, we believe that in some cases it may be to your benefit to submit to a breathalyzer test.  Few legal questions can be answered in such black and white terms, and in general a little common sense should be applied when confronted with a request for a breathalyzer test.

If you have indeed been drinking and have even a modicum of suspicion that you may blow a BAC above the legal limit, it is in your interests to refuse the breathalyzer test.  With that empirical evidence in hand, law enforcement has no further burden of evidence to collect to obtain a DUI conviction, and you will have little recourse to fight these charges.  However, by refusing this test, law enforcement will be forced to collect secondary or more subjective evidence to try and build a successful case against you.  These methods allow for more potential for error, giving you more chances to dispute their findings in court.

However, if you are absolutely convinced that you would pass a breathalyzer test, you may want to consider submitting to the officer’s request.  In the same way that a failing measurement will almost always automatically result in a DUI charge, a passing measurement will usually result in your immediate release and prevent further inconvenience.  Unlike subjective criteria, numbers and empirical data present a difficult metric to argue against in a court of law.

Florida has instituted an implied consent law, which dictates that all citizens who have been granted a Florida driver’s license have implicitly consented to submit to a chemical test if requested by a law enforcement officer.  A refusal to submit to one of these tests constitutes a breach of this consent, and results in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for 6 months on your first refusal, and increasing with each subsequent refusal, regardless of whether you are found guilty of a DUI.  To dispute the suspension requires you to pursue a separate action from your criminal case with the DMV, which can be inconvenient for many.

When asked to perform a breathalyzer, we advise you to use your best judgment.  If you are absolutely sober, or have only had a few drinks spread over an extended period of time, you may want to consider submitting to the test.  Otherwise, you have a greater chance of avoiding a DUI conviction if you refuse the test.

Posted in: DUI