Following a DUI stop, law enforcement will ask individuals to consent to breath tests. Often these tests are used as evidence that an individual was driving under the influence. There are many reasons for breathalyzer testing in DC but one of the main reasons is how convenient they are. If an individual has been charged with a DUI, or you want to know more about breath test administration, they should speak to a capable attorney that could advocate for them.
One of the main reasons for breathalyzer testing in DC is its convenience and low cost. It is easy for a police officer to be trained and to have a person submit to a breath test. There is no complicated testing that needs to be done; someone blows into a machine and gets a result that is usable as evidence.
A breathalyzer test result of .08 or higher is enough to convict the person for driving under the influence. That is called a per se DUI. A .08 is sufficient, even when someone exhibits no additional signs of impairment. The breath test alone can convict someone of driving under the influence.
That is not to say that a person should not submit to a breath test if they had any alcohol because there could be consequences in some cases for refusing that outweigh the downside to submitting. Usually, breathalyzer tests are the most convenient and low-cost way for police to get evidence against the person in a DUI case. Other methods tend to be more costly, more time-consuming, and more prone to error than the breathalyzer test.
While there are many reasons for breathalyzer testing in DC, there are other methods of testing that work as well. The most reliable way to determine a person’s blood alcohol content is through a blood draw. Only by testing the blood content directly by taking a sample of a person’s blood can someone get a 100 percent or a close to 100 percent reliable determination of a person’s blood alcohol content.
Even when someone provides a breath sample, there is still room for error. That could include mouth alcohol or error by police officers who incorrectly take a person’s breath sample. Because the breathalyzer machines must engage in a conversion process of converting the ratio of breath alcohol to blood alcohol, there is still potentially room for error and margins of error in that conversion.
Ultimately, police and prosecutors decided that the possibility of error is worthwhile because it is too costly to take blood draws in every single DUI case. There is still potentially room for error in using a breathalyzer machine to determine a person’s blood alcohol content.
Under DC law, a person does not have the right to request a certain kind of alcohol testing. The police make that decision based on what they feel is most appropriate for the circumstances. For example, when the police suspect that someone is under the influence of drugs or medication, or a combination of alcohol, drugs, or medication, they can ask the person to submit to urine testing or a blood draw because these are the only tests that can detect drugs or medication. An individual does not have the ability to request a specific kind of alcohol test, whether it is breath, urine, or blood.
All breathalyzer machines are supposed to give the exact same readings. They should all be calibrated the same and are supposed to use the same conversion calculations so there should be no difference in a person’s blood alcohol reading depending on the type of breathalyzer machine used. That is in an ideal world, so it is important to take it on a case-by-case basis to determine if an individual breath testing machine was subject to improper calibration or improper usage by the police officer administering the breath test. If an individual wants to know more about the reasons for breathalyzer testing in DC and how accurate breath testing is, they should consult a knowledgeable DUI attorney that could answer their questions.
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