California DUI Breath Tests

California Breath Testing

In order for police to evaluate whether a person is intoxicated or not, there are several tests that can be used. Some tests, known as field sobriety tests, require the driver to perform physical tasks. Other tests measure the amount of alcohol in a person's body by taking a sample. This sample can consist of any of the following:

  • Blood
  • Breath
  • Urine

One of the most common tests for alcohol intoxication is the breath test because it is easy and provides results quickly. In California, under vehicle code section 23152, a driver is considered intoxicated by alcohol if their blood-alcohol level is over the legal limit. The legal limits for drivers are as follows:

  • Driver over 21: .08%
  • Driver with a commercial license (CDL): .04%
  • Driver under 21: .01%

If a breath test shows a blood-alcohol level over the limit, this is grounds for a DUI charge.

How Does a Breath Test Work?

Breath tests are only used to measure the amount of alcohol in a person's body. They are ineffective in testing for drug intoxication. A breath test works by examining the amount of alcohol vapor that is in your lungs. When your body breaks down alcohol, some of it becomes gas. The more you drink, the more gas is produced. A breath test requires the suspect to breathe deeply so that the test can get a sample of air from deep inside their lungs.

Preliminary Alcohol Screening Device

One type of breath test is called a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test. This is a handheld device that California Highway Patrol carry with them to help evaluate drivers for alcohol intoxication. The PAS device requires drivers to breathe into it so that a breath sample can be collected. It evaluates the sample and detects the amount of alcohol present.

The problem with PAS devices is that they tend to give inaccurate results. Many factors are come into play when giving a breath sample and they can affect the results. A PAS device must be administered correctly by an officer who has been properly trained to use the device. The device must also have been calibrated correctly in order to get the most accurate results. Another big factor that can influence results is whether the suspect had eaten or drank anything recently. For example, if the driver had not been drinking but had recently taken cough medicine, this may cause a breath test to show signs of alcohol.

Because these devices are not as accurate as the breath test performed at the police station, it is not considered a chemical sobriety test that is covered under implied consent. This means that you can freely decline taking a PAS test without any penalty. If you do take the test, however, the results can be used against you in court if you fail.

California Chemical Breath Test

The other type of breath test is a chemical test that is usually performed at the police station. This in-house breath testing device is more accurate than the PAS device but is still less than perfect, the dame factors that can influence a preliminary screening system's results can affect a chemical breath test.

The big difference between the chemical breath test and a PAS test is that, if you refuse a chemical breath test, you are in violation of implied consent. When you sign up for a driver's license with the California DMV, you are giving what is called Implied Consent. This means that you are consenting to give a chemical sobriety test when asked by police. If you refuse to submit to such a test during a valid police investigation, you violate the implied consent law. As a result, the DMV will suspend your license for one year.

California Breath Test Defenses

When a person is arrested in the United States, they are innocent until proven guilty. What this means is that in order for a jury to convict you of a crime they must believe that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Our lawyers believe in questioning every piece of evidence that the prosecution has in order to build that doubt. We can demonstrate how breath and PAS tests fail and question if your BAC was really over the legal limit. There is really no way to prove otherwise and this can establish a reasonable doubt that is needed to find you ‘not guilty'.

If you have been charged with DUI or a DUI related crime, call us now. Our legal team is dedicated to their clients and getting the best possible to results. We have attorneys from all backgrounds and walks of life who will examine your case and work together to find the strongest defense. The stronger the defense you have, the more likely you are to have your charges reduced, dismissed or for the prosecution to give you a reasonable plea bargain. In all these circumstances, you can avoid going to trial and move on with your life faster. Call us today for a free consultation.

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California Defense Attorneys

Floyd, Skeren & Kelly, LLP is a criminal defense law firm serving Southern California. We represent clients who have been charged with DUI and other crimes that are looking for aggressive defense lawyers who can help them fight the charges they face. For more information, contact our firm today.