Articles Posted in Breath Test

When you are pulled over by an officer on the suspicion of Driving Under the Influence, you are not required to take the screening test at the scene. You are, however, required to take a blood or breath test once you are taken to the station.sAs with all types of officer administrated tests, including the breath test,sthere are common errors that arise.

Breath tests are not preferred by law enforcement and prosecutors because they are not a direct analysis. This means that they do not give a direct measure of the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) but have to be taken as a reading of the breath and then converted to the BAC.sThe reading derived from a Breath Test is not always accurate.sMany factors can alter the results yielding inaccurate evidence.

One such factor is temperature. The machine must be adjusted to accommodate its surrounding temperature and the temperature of the subject; otherwise the reading will be inaccurate.sAdditionally, breathing patterns have an effect on the reading.sStudies show that hyperventilation or vigorous exercise can reduce the BAC reading by up to 32%.sIn contrast, holding one’s breath can increase the reading by 25%.

Just about a month into the New Year, we learn that the California Highway Patrol is taking a no nonsense approach to Drunk Driving. On New Year’s Eve between 6 P.M and 6 A.M, the CHP arrested 108 drivers who were found to be intoxicated over the legal limit in Los Angeles County alone. This number has jumped up by 20 arrests since last year. These arrests include only those that were made by the CHP. The actual number arrested is higher when all local police departments are taken into consideration.

These numbers are from a single night, and when taken alone seem to be tolerable for a huge city like Los Angeles. However, there were seven fatalities in the county alone on that one night. That is seven people who lost their lives due to a careless decision, and innumerable amount of people who lost someone from their lives. The statistics from New Years Eve in Los Angeles County are analogous to those seen around the State of California. Government officials have not only taken notice to the alarming numbers increasing year after year, but are taking drastic actions to deter offenders and help protect the public.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a speech given on October 13, 2009 at the signing legislation AB 91 explained that it was crucial that we cut down on drunk drivers as it is becoming a serious problem in California. He noted that last year alone there were 1,335 DUI related fatalities and it was “inexcusable” that on a daily basis law enforcement arrested about 550 different drunk drivers which came out to more than 200,000 arrests a year. He further commented that he found it “outrageous” that 25% of these offenders were repeat offenders. As a result he has increased the amount of checkpoints, introduced new legislation and increased penalties to help decrease the growing problem.

I am frequently asked by clients and people I meet if it is advisable to refuse to take a chemical test either breath or blood is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI).sIn my practice as a DUIsspecialist for over 30 years,sI am frequently told that people think that it is better to refuse to submit to a chemical test after drinking to keep the police from having any physical evidence of those suspected of having a .08 %sor over (the legal limit in California).

While that would seem true to many people,sthe DUI laws regardingsrefusals have legislated serious consequences for those failing to complete a chemical test to determine the alcohol content in their blood.

California state law requires that those persons stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence are required to submit to a breath or blood test when requested to do so by a police officer after a vehicle stop. Failure to comply with the officer’s request mandates 48 hours in jail and a one-year license suspension. Thesessevere consequence aresfor first offender DUI cases. The penalties for second and third offense cases is substantially greater.

Beware of the presence of the Los Angeles Police Department using hundreds of DUI checkpoints throughout the City of Los Angeles.

Over the past 10 years since these randomsCheckpoints were first introduced, the Police have extended these checkpoints throughout the city at locations focusing on intersections selected for their high incidents of traffic accidents and perceived DUI drivers.

DUI checkpoints do not require the police to justify any vehicle stop. This is an exception to the legal requirement of probable cause (i.e. violation of any vehicle code section) to make the stop of a vehicle lawful and valid.

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