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breath test during DUI traffic stop

A breathalyzer test, also known simply as a breath alcohol test, is a common device used by law enforcement during traffic stops that involve possible DUI. A breathalyzer is a machine that monitors the amount of alcohol in your breath. The device uses this information to calculate an approximate blood alcohol concentration or BAC. A breathalyzer is not as accurate as a blood or urine BAC test. A preliminary breath test is considered a tool that a police officer can use to make a determination about a driver’s potential for alcohol impairment. 

What Happens if I Refuse a Breath Test in Ventura County?

First, it is important to understand the types of breath tests that you may be given. A preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS) is a breath test that officers utilize at the scene of the traffic stop. If you are brought into the police station, the officers will administer a breath, blood, or in some cases, a urine test. These tests are official and are considered chemical tests. The type of breathalyzer test that the police provide at the traffic stop is part of the preliminary tests and is treated similarly to the field sobriety tests (FSTs) such as the walk and turn test and reciting the alphabet, among others. You can refuse a preliminary breath test without a legal penalty. 

How is Implied Consent Defined in California?

FST tests are intended for use by officers to determine whether a driver may be impaired. When a driver in California obtains a driver’s license, he or she agrees to consent to tests as requested by law enforcement. Implied consent means that you must participate in requested chemical tests, however, FSTs and on-site traffic stop breath tests are not included under this law. If you refuse to submit to chemical testing at the police station, you are subject to separate penalties, including an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. The fact that you refused a chemical test will also be used in court.

Do I Need to Submit to a Breath Test during a California DUI Traffic Stop?

A PAS test, requested by officers at the traffic stop, is not mandatory. You can refuse to take the test. The police prefer that you take the breath test and will likely do everything they can to convince you. However, keep in mind that only you can decide whether to submit to a breath test. If you do take the test and your BAC is lower than 0.08% it does not mean that the police will automatically allow you to go. Even if your BAC is found to be less than 0.08%, the police may still decide to arrest you for DUI. Remember that it may not always be in your best interest to agree to a breath test at the scene. 

Defending Against DUI Charges in Ventura County

The breath test is just one of the factors that the police use to decide whether to initiate a DUI arrest. Once you get to the police station, you will be asked to submit to a chemical test. In many instances, the chemical test will be a blood test. In some cases, the police may use a breathalyzer test at the police station. This is considered a chemical test and something you cannot refuse under penalty. 

However, there are some ways to successfully challenge a breathalyzer test. The breathalyzer machine must be properly calibrated and in proper operational order. The person who operated the test device must have done so according to instructions. The test could have been administered at an incorrect time. Your attorney will review the evidence in the case and advise you as to the best way to proceed with your defense. 

A DUI conviction comes with severe penalties and will impact you and your family for many years to come. If you were charged with DUI, do not delay. Seek guidance as soon as possible from our experienced DUI attorneys in Ventura County. Call David Lehr Law at (805) 477-0070 to schedule a consultation today.