How to Beat Breathalyzer and Field Sobriety Tests

How to Beat Breathalyzer and Field Sobriety Tests

Have you ever been pulled over due to an officer’s suspicion that you were driving under the influence? Or, alternatively, have you ever been pulled over for an unrelated charge, only to end up facing a DUI arrest? In either of these instances, the situation can seem far more final than it actually is. After all, on the surface, the results of a breathalyzer test seem to be empirical evidence that you were drinking. If your breathalyzer results came in at over 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), then you may already be losing hope in avoiding a DUI charge and conviction.

However, that is a misconception. Although breathalyzers (and, to a lesser extent, field sobriety tests) can carry a sense of finality, these tests don’t actually have the final say in a DUI arrest and conviction—not even close.

In reality, breathalyzers are far from infallible. Further, the results from roadside breathalyzers are not always admissible in court. It’s entirely possible for a roadside breathalyzer test to provide an inaccurate result, and you should always keep this in mind when fighting a potential DUI conviction.

Field sobriety tests are also used as a way to determine whether or not a driver’s abilities were impaired due to the influence of alcohol or another substance. However, never forget that field sobriety tests are even more fallible than breathalyzers and that these results can be skewed heavily by a wide array of environmental and other physical factors. Even nervousness or jitteriness can lead to someone doing poorly during field sobriety tests. Other factors, such as an existing injury, can also lead to difficulties performing field sobriety tasks.

How to Fight Breathalyzer Test Results

Most importantly, if you’re hoping to fight the results of a breathalyzer test, it’s vital to have an experienced DUI attorney at your side—whether you’re facing a felony or a misdemeanor charge. An attorney is deeply familiar with the intricacies of DUI law, and understands all the shortcomings of breathalyzer tests and their accuracy. Even if the situation feels hopeless to you, you could be surprised by what a skilled lawyer can do for you and your case.

Even after failing a breathalyzer test, it’s your right to have an opportunity to defend yourself. Make sure you take full advantage of this opportunity, as it can have an overwhelming impact on whether or not you’re faced with a conviction. After you hire a DUI attorney, they have the option to draft a motion to suppress evidence. If this strategy succeeds, then the results of your breathalyzer test could be removed as evidence.

As we’ve mentioned, breathalyzer results are far from foolproof, and there’s a number of factors that could make them inadmissible in court.

Factors Leading to Inaccurate Breathalyzer Test Results

  1. Improper administration of the test. Believe it or not, it’s not always the case that an officer will be correctly trained on how to administer a breathalyzer test. When the administration of a test is improper, there’s a far greater chance of receiving an inaccurate result. For instance, a lesser trained officer may fail to observe the necessary waiting period, leading to skewed results.
  2. The officer has failed to calibrate the test. In order to provide reliable and accurate results, it’s crucial that a breathalyzer machine be calibrated regularly. If the officer has failed to do this, you can reasonably argue that the results are unreliable and shouldn’t be permissible as evidence in court.
  3. The recipient of the test has medication in their system. Another way for breathalyzer test results to be skewed is through medication that an individual already has in their system. Again, these tests are highly fallible, and these kinds of errors can (and do) occur. Instances like this one are especially common during roadside breathalyzer tests, compared to the higher quality test you may face at a police station. In any case, certain medications are capable of interfering with breathalyzer results.
  4. The recipient of the test has a physical injury or illness. Whether it’s during field sobriety tests or a breathalyzer test, a physical injury or illness can impair an individual’s ability to perform these tasks, as requested.
  5. The effect of rising alcohol levels (RAL). All of our bodies metabolize alcohol differently. Due to this metabolic process, it’s entirely possible for breathalyzer test results not to accurately match someone’s BAC level, during the time when they were actually behind the wheel. Due to RAL, this level could be higher, come time to take the breathalyzer test.

Should You Ever Refuse a Breathalyzer?

Generally speaking, it usually isn’t a good idea to refuse a breathalyzer test. Even if you confidently believe yourself to be innocent, and are willing to complete the field sobriety tests asked of you, it’s typically in your interest to agree to a breathalyzer test.

The state of California (along with every other U.S. state) does have “implied consent” laws, which render BAC testing necessary, if it’s ever asked of you by an officer. If you instead refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you could end up facing penalties more severe than if you had received a first-time DUI offense.

Plus, officers are still able to look for other signs of intoxication, even if you have refused the breath test. Refusing the breathalyzer isn’t even a guarantee that you won’t be receiving a DUI charge. Even if you believe that the officer had no reasonable grounds to think you were drunk, it still isn’t a wise idea to refuse a breathalyzer test.

Experienced DUI Attorney in West Covina, California

If you’re currently facing a DUI charge in California, then it’s time to turn to the trusted services of the Law Office of Daniel P. Flores. It’s vital not to fight the charge on your own, without the expert legal aid of someone who understands the process. Daniel P. Flores is an experienced DUI and criminal defense lawyer, who has defended over 2000 DUI and criminal cases in the Los Angeles area. In order to set up a consultation, contact us through our website, or give our office a call.

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