Drunk driving suspects are usually asked to blow into a breath testing device often called a “breathalyzer.” The device measures the alcohol in the person’s breath which can be used to assess their intoxication level. Per Illinois law, anyone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over 0.08 percent or more is considered to be intoxicated. The results of breath tests heavily influence a driving under the influence (DUI) case.
Many people are unaware that there are two different types of breath tests used in Illinois. It is important to know how these breath tests can affect a DUI case and what to do if you were charged with drunk driving based on a breath alcohol test result.
Portable Breath Tests are Preliminary Tests
When police suspect someone of driving under the influence of alcohol, they may require the person to complete a field sobriety test or breath alcohol test. Police must have “probable cause” to arrest someone. This means that they must be able to cite an objective reason they believe the person committed a crime. The small, easily transported breathalyzers most people are familiar with are preliminary breath tests. These tests have only one purpose: establishing probable cause.
Preliminary breath testing devices carried around by police are not accurate enough to be used as evidence during a DUI case. You have the right to refuse to take a preliminary breath test. However, refusing the test does not mean that you will avoid getting arrested. Police can use slurred speech, the smell of alcohol on your breath, field sobriety test results, or other circumstances as probable cause for a DUI arrest.
Testing at the Police Station is What Really Counts
Once someone is arrested and taken to the police station, they are asked to take a second breath alcohol test which is much more accurate. This test is conducted on a large, stationary device and is referred to as an evidentiary breath test or mandatory breath test. If you refuse to take an evidentiary breath test, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for one year. As the name implies, the results of an evidentiary breath test are used as evidence in a DUI case.
Keep in mind that being arrested and charged with drunk driving is not the same as being convicted. You still have a chance to present a defense and pursue an acquittal. Although evidentiary breath tests are usually more reliable than preliminary breath tests, they are not perfect. Issues with the timing or administration of the test, device defects, and inadequate calibration are just some of the problems that can lead to invalid results.
Contact a McHenry County DUI Defense Lawyer
If you were arrested for drunk driving, contact Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC. Our Crystal Lake criminal defense lawyers can investigate your case and help you defend yourself. Call 815-338-3838 for a free consultation to learn more.