When you think of the term “alcohol test,” you’re likely thinking of someone breathing into a device for the police at the side of the road. However, there are actually two different types of breath alcohol tests: the chemical test that is conducted at the police station and the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test that is done at the side of the road. Both of these tests have different requirements and can have different legal ramifications, as your DUI lawyer in Denver, CO can explain to you.
A PAS test is usually a part of the sobriety tool kit that law enforcement officers carry with them on the job. Since this is part of a field test kit, it is easy for the officers to use and gives an estimate of the blood alcohol content (BAC) level of whoever is taking it. However, since it is not a fully accurate test, courts in many states do not allow the results from a PAS test to be used in court.
Many different factors can influence the results of a roadside breathalyzer test, including dirt, smoke, breath mints, cleaning products, humidity levels, nail polish and gasoline. A device with a dying battery may produce inaccurate results, and if a device is not updated to the latest software version, it can also produce incorrect results.
In many states, including Colorado, refusing to tale a PAS test is an option. However, when someone refuses the test, they could have their license suspended and be ordered to take a chemical breath test at the local police station.
A chemical breath test is much like a roadside PAS test, except it is done in the controlled environment of a police station, which removes many of the potential issues. However, things such as irregular breathing patterns can still have an influence on the results of a chemical test.
Other tests done at a police station include a urine test and a blood test, the latter of which is the most accurate. A blood test can also be done at the hospital, but in general, the blood test is the least convenient and most expensive of all the BAC tests and is usually not done unless an officer believes the breathalyzer test is not returning accurate results. Keep in mind that even a blood test can be flawed if it is not administered correctly. A person who has diabetes or is taking herbal supplements or cough medicine may register a higher-than-normal BAC.
It’s important to keep in mind that a PAS test is usually voluntary, and the officer administering the test has to tell you that. At the same time, if you refuse a PAS test, you may end up with a longer license suspension and other penalties because of your refusal. If you have been arrested under the suspicion of DUI, talk to a DUI lawyer in Denver, CO immediately. The sooner you work with an attorney on your case, the sooner your rights will be protected.
Thanks to Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and breath tests for a DUI.