Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:19
A Breathalyzer is a commercial device used to measure a person’s blood-alcohol content (BAC). Not all devices that test your BAC are Breathalyzers, but they are designed to perform the same function. Breath analyzers are used by various law enforcement agencies to perform roadside intoxication tests, and their use has been upheld by the courts as constitutional.
A police officer may pull you over if he has probable cause. Probable cause includes minor traffic infractions such as improper lane change or failure to signal. Once you are pulled over, the officer has the right to ask you if you have been drinking. As that point you do not have to answer, but failing to answer carries consequences.
In Maryland, you have consented to have a BAC test administered merely because you are driving on public roads. If you refuse to take the test, your license can be immediately taken from you. If you take the test and fail, then you can be charged under any number of drunk driving laws.
How do Breath Analyzers work?
Breath analyzers measure your BAC by measuring the amount of alcohol in your breath. Alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream after consumption. Depending on the amount of food you have eaten, it can take anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours to fully absorb any alcoholic drink. Blood passing through the membrane in your lungs can cause traces of alcohol to be carried out when you exhale. By breathing into a tube, your breath is analyzed and the amount of alcohol per expelled liter of air is reported.
Maryland BAC limits
To be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), you would have to have a BAC of at least .04. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a more serious offense, and it requires a BAC of at least .08. To reach .04 BAC, an average male needs to consume approximately 3 drinks in an hour.
Are Breath Analyzer’s Accurate?
There had been a great deal of controversy over the use of a Breathalyzer or other alcohol field test. Some studies have shown that breath analyzers can be inaccurate as much as 60% of the time. Since there are a variety of factors affecting your BAC, measuring it effectively can be difficult. Courts have generally upheld Breathalyzer tests, but there have been situations where the results have been thrown out.
Can I challenge the Breathalyzer?
Yes. When faced with a drunk driving conviction as a result of a Breathalyzer or other breath-testing device, it is important to look at how the test was administered. A dui attorney can examine the steps the officer took when giving you the test, if the machine properly calibrated, and if the test was given at the proper time. Some police procedures require two tests be given to assure accuracy. Others require a blood draw after the test to show some level of intoxication. If anything was not done properly, the entire test could be excluded and your case dropped.