You probably know your limits, and if you are attending a party or an evening out with friends, you are likely careful to pace yourself and stop drinking well before you get behind the wheel of a car. Nevertheless, police pulled you over, and you were shocked when you blew .08 on the breath test. Now you are facing an uncertain future.
You may be relieved to learn that the breath test used to initiate your arrest may not be as foolproof as police would like you to believe. The truth is that breath tests administered in the field are susceptible to errors for many reasons. In fact, any test of your blood alcohol concentration may have flaws.
Breath tests in the field are not always reliable because many factors may affect their accuracy, for example:
- Paint thinner
- Certain foods
- Improper maintenance or calibration
In addition, breath tests do not adjust for differences in people but, instead, offer an average. This may mean your results are not accurate. When police rely on an inaccurate breath test in the field, your arrest and subsequent BAC results may violate your rights. If police administer a breath test in the field, they will likely perform a second test at the station. This may be another breath test or a more invasive test, such as a blood or urine analysis.
Blood and urine tests
Courts consider blood tests invasive, and many states require your consent or a warrant before drawing your blood. However, refusing a blood test may result in the suspension of your license, higher fines or longer jail sentences if a court convicts you of DUI. Blood tests are typically the most accurate of the three BAC tests, but human error is always a possibility. Some factors affecting blood samples include:
- Unsterile labs
- Addition of preservatives
- Mislabeled samples
The urine test is the third type of BAC. It is the least accurate of the three tests, and there is a much higher chance of substantially skewed test results. Police cannot perform urine tests when they pull you over, so some time must elapse before the administration of the test. This alone can have a profound effect on your results since alcohol may not appear in your urine until hours after you were driving and remain in your urine for up to a day.
You can see that, because of the irregularities of the tests used to measure the level of alcohol in your blood, the results are not always accurate or dependable. With experienced legal assistance, many in California have questioned the results of such tests and successfully challenged the charges against them.