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The Pros and Cons of taking the Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test During a Los Angeles DUI Arrest

When you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol under California Vehicle Code §23152, you will be asked to submit to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test.

The Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test, or the PAS Test, is a breath test that is given at the scene of the potential arrest. What many people do not know is that this test is voluntary. You are not required to take it. Many times people are not informed that it is voluntary, or in an effort to cooperate and wanting to please officers, people will submit to it.

There are some pros and cons to taking this test. It is not always recommended that you refuse to take it or that you take it.

For example, taking the test if you have a low blood alcohol could lead to no arrest, or establish evidence for the raising blood alcohol defense. Let’s consider the hypothetical of Dina.

Dina was driving home from dinner with friends. She had one glass of wine with her dinner over the course of three hours. While she had some alcohol in her system, it was not sufficient to establish intoxication. As she was driving home, officers pulled her over for not having one headlight working. She explained she had meant to get it fixed. Officers asked if she had been drinking and she said she had only had one glass of wine. They asked her to submit to a PAS, which she readily did. Her blood alcohol level was a .04. Not enough to establish a reasonable argument for intoxication, officers let her go home.

Now let’s consider that Dina was leaving dinner with her friends and going to another bar for a birthday party. As she left the restaurant she quickly finished a martini, so that she would feel the effects when she got to the bar. Same as before, she is pulled over. This time the PAS test reads .08. This is right on the legal limit of intoxication. She is then arrested and taken into custody. In custody you are asked to submit to a blood alcohol content test. This test is not voluntary, it is mandatory. Refusing to take this test can lead to additional sentencing or penalties. Because Dina is at .08 she is taken into custody and given the mandatory BAC test. This reads .12. When Dina goes to Court, she will be able to argue the Raising Blood Alcohol Defense, that at the time she was driving she was not intoxicated, but only became intoxicated later, when she would have no longer been driving. Taking the PAS test helps establish that fact.

Now let’s consider the cons of taking the PAS through the use of another example.

Donny was driving home from a friend’s birthday party. He had drank a few beers and a mixed drink. When he is pulled over by officers for changing lanes in an intersection, he is asked to submit to the PAS test. He agrees, wanting to be compliant. His BAC is .11. Officers take him into custody. He then submits to the mandatory test at the station, reading .11. This now provides evidence to officers that his BAC was consistently above the legal limit. It supports Prosecutions case and reduces any likelihood of a Raising Alcohol Defense being successful.

It is important to know your rights and to properly assess your case before you ever set foot inside the court room. Consul with  a Los Angeles DUI Attorney as soon as possible!