Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most common criminal offenses Americans are arrested for each year. A DUI conviction can have a significant impact on the rest of your life, which is why it is important to know what you are up against as soon as you see a police car’s lights in your rearview mirror. To help educate Florida drivers like you, we have laid out three misconceptions about breathalyzers so you can make an informed decision if you are ever asked to do a breath test.
1. A breathalyzer test is optional. For a variety of reasons, many people operate under the assumption that they do not need to submit to a breathalyzer test. If you are lawfully arrested in the state of Florida by a police officer who had reasonable probable cause, under the state’s implied consent laws you must submit to a breath, blood or urine test to determine your BAC, depending on the individual circumstance—or you will have an automatic penalty. Driving is a privilege. The implied consent law tells us that anyone who is driving in the state of Florida has given consent to submit to an approved chemical or physical test. AKA consent is implied automatically by driving. Such tests could include a Breathalyzer test, a blood test, a urine test or field sobriety tests. But let’s be clear, the Florida Supreme Court has stated that if the DUI arrest was unlawful, your license cannot be suspended for refusing to take a Breathalyzer test.
2. A breathalyzer is as accurate as any other chemical test. Apart from using breath tests, police can request blood and urine samples, depending on the situation. As its name suggests, BAC is most accurately calculated when blood itself is tested. While a breathalyzer’s reading is often very close to one’s true BAC, it is merely an estimation based on the amount of alcohol vapor it receives during a reading. Urine tests can be even less reliable than breathalyzers.
3. Breathalyzer readings are considered rock-solid, reliable evidence in court. As we just established that breath tests can sometimes offer slightly inaccurate readings, there are, accordingly, opportunities to challenge the validity of your breathalyzer reading in court. Breathalyzers can sometimes be off by as much as .02 percent, and some medical conditions can affect the readings. Chewing gum and using some types of cough syrup can also result in inaccurate readings.
Those getting pulled over for suspected DUI for the first time in their lives will likely panic and be unprepared for the general process. Some will refuse to take a breath test in the hopes that they will avoid getting certain evidence collected against them. The bottom line is that you cannot be forced to take a breath test, but refusal carries certain consequences; getting educated on these consequences can help you minimize the damage of a DUI arrest and possible conviction.
The most important step to take after you have been arrested for suspected DUI is to contact an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney who can carefully scrutinize your case and fight for you in and out of court. Titan Law is well-equipped to give your case this premium level of care; call us today at Call to get started.