DUI Breath Test Information

When you’re pulled over for a DUI, you may be asked to take a breathalyzer test.  The alcohol breathalyzer test will measure the amount of alcohol in your blood.  Many people have heard of the breathalyzer, but there’s a lot of confusion about what it does exactly and whether or not you should agree to it.

In fact, you may not even know that you’re allowed to refuse the breathalyzer test.  While you don’t have to take the alcohol breathalyzer, you may suffer some negative consequences by refusing the breathalyzer.

Before you’re asked to give a breathalyzer test, you’ll usually be asked to perform several field sobriety tests.  Only after those seem positive will an officer ask that you take a breathalyzer.

For some states, refusing a breathalyzer test means that you go to jail.  It can actually be considered a crime to refuse a breathalyzer test in some states so its important to check the DUI laws in your state.  That means that refusing a breathalyzer may cause you to serve more jail time than if you were only convicted for DUI.  In addition, in some states when you refuse a breathalyzer it’s considered evidence that you think you’re guilty.   As you can see, there are some negative consequences of refusing a breathalyzer.

While many people believe that breathalyzer tests are highly scientific and irrefutable, in reality they’re not 100% accurate.  In fact, there have been arguments that the breathalyzer, while very sensitive, yields results that are not specific enough.  That means that while they will test positive for the alcohol in your blood, other chemicals may also cause positive results.  If this happens your breathalyzer results will be falsely elevated.

Breathalyzers can yield false positives from several medical conditions including diabetes, smoking, and alcoholism.  Inhaling other chemicals such as paint fumes can also lead to positive breathalyzer results.  As a result, your alcohol breathalyzer test result may not be completely correct.

Often a positive breathalyzer result will lead to another test.  Alcohol levels can also be determined from testing your urine or blood, not just from a breathalyzer.  These tests are more specific and are preferred as evidence in court.  These tests are used to confirm what was found in the alcohol breathalyzer before proceeding with a conviction.

When you’re asked to take a breathalyzer test, you do have the right to refuse.  However, you should think about the consequences of refusing.  If you’re in doubt about whether to take a breathalyzer, you can always ask to speak with your lawyer.  At that point the police will end all testing, including the breathalyzer.  However, you’ll still be booked for the DUI.  If you’re confident that you’re below the legal limit, you can take the breathalyzer test and then you’ll be free to go if you’re below the limit.

There are actually 2 different times when you are asked to submit to a breath test after you are stopped for suspicion of DUI.  The first breath test is administered on the side of the road and is called a PASS test.  PASS stands for Preliminary Alcohol Screening System.  This test is not required and you do not have to submit to it.  There is no penalty involved if you politely decline to take this PASS breath test.

The 2nd breath test is the mandatory one.  This breath test is administered at the police station by a machine called the Intoxilyzer 5000.  If you decline to take this test you will automatically lose your driving privileges for a mandatory 1 year in most states.

DUI Breath Test



For more information on the Intoxilyzer 5000 see this brochure:  Intoxilyzer 5000

For more information on the Intoxilyzer 5000 test Intoxilyzer Test