DUI Breathalyzer In Alabama
Even if you have never been pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI) in Alabama, you probably know that the state’s law enforcement agencies rely on breath tests, or breathalyzers, to identify and apprehend drunk drivers. But what exactly is a breathalyzer and how does it work? Continue reading to learn more about these very important tests.
BAC: What It Is And How It Affects You
From a legal perspective, a driver’s level of intoxication is based on his or her blood alcohol content, or BAC. In simple terms, BAC is a unit of measurement used to indicate the percentage of alcohol found in a person’s bloodstream. Under federal law, any person operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered legally impaired. However, Alabama law also requires commercial vehicle operators to abide by a 0.04% BAC limit, while underage drivers must adhere to a lower BAC limit of just 0.02%.
If an officer suspects you are under the influence of alcohol, he or she will most likely administer a breathalyzer to determine your exact BAC. As you can probably guess, a breathalyzer works by measuring the amount of alcohol detected in a sample of your breath. If the test indicates you have an illegal amount of alcohol in your system, you can expect to be arrested and charged with driving under the influence—even if your ability to drive is not actually impaired.
There are two types of breathalyzers that can be used by officers in the field: the first test is typically administered at the scene of the traffic stop, and is known as a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS)—this test is entirely voluntary. The second test, meanwhile, is the official breathalyzer, and must be performed at a medical facility or police station. It is important to know that, under the state’s Implied Consent Law, you are legally required to perform this test. In fact, if you refuse, you will be charged with DUI and face the same penalties as someone who failed.
Challenging A Breathalyzer
Although breathalyzers are based on scientific calculations, they are not always 100% reliable. Like most tests, a number of factors can affect a person’s breathalyzer results—such as gender, weight, and metabolic rate, just to name a few. Some medical disorders—including heartburn and gum disease—as well as products like gum, cough medicine, and breath mints, can also impact a person’s test results. Unfortunately, breathalyzers use a standard set of data to calculate BAC and therefore, do not take these factors into consideration.