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Albert M. Quirantes | Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Office

Are Breathalyzer Results Accurate and Can You Refuse to be Tested?

The answer to the first part of the question is: “It depends”. The answer to the second part of the question is: “Yes, but you may regret it”.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida, you are most likely to have your blood alcohol tested by some type of breathalyzer. If you are an adult and not a commercial driver, you probably already know that you can be charged with DUI if there is evidence that your blood alcohol level at the time you were driving was 0.08% or more.

Note that even if you refuse to be tested you may still end up being charged with DUI if police have other evidence that you were ‘intoxicated’, e.g. your behavior, odor on your breath, failure when asked to carry out a sobriety test. We will come to the pros and cons (mostly cons) of refusing a breathalyzer test later.

What is a breathalyzer?

A breathalyzer is a device that makes an attempt to compute the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. It doesn’t do this by actually taking a sample of your blood, but measuring alcohol traces from your lungs and making a calculation as an estimate of your blood alcohol content (BAC). Most breathalyzers that are used in police stations these days are reasonably accurate as long as maintenance procedures have been used correctly and officers who use the breathalyzers have been trained to use the devices and assess the results.

You may also be asked to blow into what is a basic, portable breathalyzer when you are stopped by police. These types of breathalyzers are not nearly as accurate as the ones used when you are taken to a police station, but may be enough for police to be suspicious that you were intoxicated when they stopped you so they have grounds for arresting you and testing you later.

Defense against the use of a breathalyzer test result

Your DUI lawyer may be suspicious that a breathalyzer test result could have been inaccurate. The time taken after you were driving can affect the result, anything that you may have taken (not alcohol) such as medication, or a medical condition, may have triggered an incorrect, if positive, result, failure to show evidence of proper maintenance and calibration, failure to show that the testing officer had been trained properly or used correct procedures can all mean that a result from the breathalyzer cannot be used as evidence.

Refusing a breath test can result in loss of license privileges

Because breathalyzer results are more convincing evidence of intoxication than sobriety tests or subjective observations from police officers, it may seem smart to refuse a breath test. No results, no evidence, right? It is your right to refuse a breath test, unless injuries were involved at an accident you were involved in (police then have the right to order a blood sample draw whether you refuse a breath test or not). However, under Florida law, possession of your driving license is considered a privilege and not a right. Under implied consent law, when you hold a driving license it is implied that you consent to a breath test when asked. If you refuse the first time, you lose your license for a year, 18 months suspension for a second refusal. In addition, a refusal to take a breath test may be used (together with anything else the police have) as evidence that you were DUI.

Contact a Miami Criminal Defense and DUI Lawyer if Arrested for DUI

If you have been arrested for DUI, contact “Albert Quirantes Esq. Criminal DUI & Ticket Lawyers” in Miami, as their experienced legal team may just get your charge dismissed or reduced. They can also negotiate with the IRS or Florida Department of Revenue before any charges are filed. They could agree to lower penalties or keep the case civil if prosecution doesn’t appear to be warranted.

Contact Albert Quirantes, Esq. Criminal DUI & Ticket Lawyers
(305) 644-1800.


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