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California Driving Under The Influence – Breath Test

DUI Breath Test in California

If you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence in California, you will be asked to take a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS) at the scene. While the PAS test is optional, and you have the right to refuse to take it, the test administered at the police station is mandatory. During the DUI stop, you will be offered the choice of taking the breath test or the blood test in order to get a reading of your blood alcohol content (BAC).

A breath test is not the most accurate alcohol screening test because after the breath sample is taken, it must be converted to a blood alcohol content amount. The breath test is not as direct as a blood test, which has a higher probability for accuracy.

What if the Breath Test is Wrong?

There are several external factors that may affect a breath test reading for blood alcohol content. For example, temperature can affect the reading. The test must be adjusted to accommodate the surrounding temperature, as well as the temperature of the subject taking the test. Breathing patterns may also have an effect on the reading of the breath test. If you are nervous and breathing heavily, hyperventilation will cause the reading to be inaccurate.

One of the most common reasons for an inaccurate breath test reading is the machine that is used is not calibrated properly. The Breathalyzer machine must be calibrated frequently, but the records kept on the machine may show otherwise. Breathalyzer machines also have a problem of non-specificity. The machines don’t just pick up alcohol on someone’s breath, they may also pick up similar substances with a comparable molecular structure, such as acetone.

Legal Defenses For Refusing to Take a Breathalyzer Test

During a DUI stop, you may refuse to take a Breathalyzer test in certain situations. For example, if you have asthma you are legally excused from taking the test. You may also be excused if the machine is giving erroneous or inaccurate readings. What it is important to understand is that while you may legally be excused from taking a breathalyzer test for a number of reasons, you may still be legally required to take a blood test.

The skilled DUI defense attorneys at Hoffman & Associates have successfully defended thousands of clients facing DUI charges. We can request the records for a specific Breathalyzer machine to test it for accuracy and proper maintenance. With over 30 years of courtroom experience in California, we understand the many legal defenses available for DUI charges and can counsel you on your rights. Defending your reputation and your rights is what we do, so contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case!