California Breathalyzer Laws
Overview of Breathalyzer Tests in Orange County, CA
A breathalyzer test is a common form of chemical test used to determine
a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) if they are suspected
of driving while intoxicated. Often used in conjunction with
field sobriety tests and the officer's observation of the individual, breath test results
can be used by the prosecution in their attempts to have the defendant
convicted of a DUI.
The breathalyzer works by measuring the level of alcohol found on the individual's
breath. The driver blows into the machine, which then analyzes the sample
of breath from their deep lung region, which is believed to be an accurate
indicator of the driver's BAC. This sample is measured and the BAC
is determined from the driver's breath alcohol concentration.
At Gold & Witham, we understand that breath tests are subject to operator
error, mechanical issues, and a number of other factors which will all
skew the results. It is our job as DUI lawyers representing the accused
to prove that a breath test is wrong—and we do it every day.
What factors can affect breath test results?
In California, if a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%
or higher, he or she is considered to be driving under the influence. The
penalties for a DUI conviction can be severe, including
license suspension, jail time, fines, installation of an
ignition interlock device, and community service.
A DUI attorney will look to a number of factors in determining how to best
defend a breathalyzer test result. A few examples are listed below:
- Did the officer observe you for 15 minutes prior to the test? The officer
is required to do this, to watch for conditions that affect breathalyzer
- Do you have acid reflux or another gastroesophageal reflux disease?
- Was there a machine present that may have altered the readout of the breath
- Was the machine properly calibrated?
- Was the machine properly maintained and cleaned?
- Did the officer use the machine correctly?
What breath tests are used in California?
In most cases when a driver is pulled over by a law enforcement official
in California, they will have to submit to a PAS test. This stands for
"preliminary alcohol screening." This is a type of chemical testing device used to give a measure of BAC.
This and other types of chemical tests can inaccurately reflect actual
intoxication because it measures the amount of alcohol present on a person's
breath and then translates this into an estimate of how much alcohol is
in the blood.
Factors that can affect the PAS and other tests are how soon before driving
you drank and whether or not you recently consumed any food. Even some
types of food can give a false breath test reading. Because of California's
implied consent laws, according to the DMV, those pulled over under suspicion
of drunk driving must submit to a chemical test or blood test. Only those
under 21 are required to submit to a PAS test, because it is considered
a field sobriety test only.
Fight back with our Orange County DUI attorneys!
Although taking a breathalyzer test and getting a high result may make
it seem as though you will inevitably be convicted, there are a number of
DUI defenses that an experienced lawyer can use. Many drivers believe they have to
simply accept their charges and plead guilty, but this is not the case—you
can challenge your DUI allegations. Our experienced firm recognizes that
breath machines are not infallible and there are many ways in which we
can build your defense.
If your test involved one of the factors listed above or some other factor
that you believe may have invalidated your BAC reading, do not hesitate to
contact an Orange County DUI lawyer at our firm. We can investigate the circumstances of your arrest and all
evidence brought against you to build a powerful defense against your
charges; we can move to have your case dismissed if you were wrongfully charged.
Why wait another moment? Call our team of Orange County DUI defense lawyers
today to enlist aggressive advocacy for your DUI charges!