Los Angeles Breathalyzer Tests

Discover the intricacies of Los Angeles breathalyzer tests, from legal implications and accuracy to procedures. Call the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney and learn how we can help safeguard your rights.

The Procedure and Implications of Breathalyzer Tests in Los Angeles

Most drunk driving arrests result from Breathalyzer machine BAC readings, which are not infallible despite their widespread use in our city. All road users must familiarize themselves with these testing procedures and comprehend the potential for challenging the accuracy of the test results.

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, our team has much experience in DUI defense. We’ve successfully helped our clients navigate the nuances of DUI cases, even challenging breathalyzer results. As you read this article, you’ll get a good grasp of breathalyzer tests, including how they work, the legal consequences of the results, and the different options for disputing them.

Staying informed is essential to protecting your rights. Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free initial consultation. Our goal is to assist and support you in any way we can.

Understanding the Breathalyzer Test

A breathalyzer is a device used for a breath test when a person is suspected of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated. It measures the blood alcohol content (BAC) by detecting alcohol through additive absorption. Essentially, the more methyl groups present in a person’s breath sample that absorbs infrared light, the higher the recorded BAC will be. 

High BAC levels indicate impairment, and the closer to 0.08%, the more likely one is to be charged with a DUI. Breathalyzer machines ensure road safety and enforce regulations against drunk driving. When the breathalyzer test is conducted correctly, the test result holds admissible value as evidence. 

Beyond DUI, the FDA on Breathalyzer Diagnostic Test also reveals that breathalyzer tests can help detect infections like the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) in breath samples.

Procedures Involved

The breathalyzer test is done within two hours after arresting someone for suspected impaired driving. Before taking the test, the person will be closely observed for at least twenty minutes. They can’t chew gum, use mouthwash, or put anything in their mouth during this time. This procedure is to avoid false readings from any chemicals in their mouth.

The suspect will be asked to blow into a little glass ampule for a while. After that, the breathalyzer machine will analyze the content of the ampule and print out an estimate of the suspect’s blood alcohol content (BAC). It’s important to mention that breathalyzers don’t directly measure BAC; they estimate it based on the alcohol concentration in the breath.

When the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) ranges between 0.05% and 0.08%, you experience feelings of well-being, chattiness, relaxation, and confidence. When the BAC ranges between 0.05% and 0.08%, judgment and inhibition become impaired. Symptoms include slurred speech, impaired balance, emotional instability, nausea, and vomiting at levels of 0.08% to 0.15% BAC.

Accuracy & Controversies

It is important to note that breathalyzer machines are not foolproof and can produce inaccurate results. A primary concern is machine calibration. If the breathalyzer is not calibrated accurately, it can produce false results, possibly leading to wrongful DUI charges.

Calibration involves using the device under specific circumstances to ensure accurate readings. While it’s not a simple process, it is crucial. Over time, these machines can malfunction, and calibration fixes that. When law enforcement needs to calibrate the device, the results can correctly show a high blood alcohol level or BAC.

The outcome of a breathalyzer test can be influenced by other factors as well. If a person has multiple non-alcohol-based methyl compounds in their breath, these compounds can add up and lead to a higher BAC reading.

People who may show higher BAC results due to the presence of other methyl groups include those with untreated diabetes, people following specific diets (like Keto), people who are fasting, chronic smokers, heavy drinkers, individuals exposed to paint, glue, or lacquer fumes, people who accidentally ingested gasoline, or those who consume various types of bread.

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we have skilled defense attorneys who can carefully analyze evidence, find mitigating factors, and effectively challenge the accuracy of breathalyzer tests in court. By taking this strategy, we aim to get charges dismissed or reduced, ensuring the best possible outcome for you.

Legal Implications

As per California’s legal codes, drivers must maintain their BAC below certain limits:

  • 0.08% is the legal limit for individuals over 21

  • 0.04% for commercial drivers, and

  • 0.01% for those under 21.

Consequently, individuals exceeding these limits can face DUI charges.

In California, a driver who is found guilty of a First offense DUI in California may potentially encounter the following consequences:

  • Fines of up to $2,000

  • Potential jail time for a maximum duration of six months.

  • Compulsory use of an ignition interlock device (IID) for six months.

Excessive Blood Alcohol Cases

When a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds 0.15%, they are considered to have a dangerous blood alcohol level and might have to pay higher fines or spend more time in jail. Also, they may have to install an Ignition Interlock Device for up to three years, attend traffic school for nine months, complete community service, or undergo alcohol treatment.

Finally, if drivers get arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.20%, they might face extra sentencing enhancements. In those situations, they could be asked to complete a 60-hour alcohol treatment program along with the penalties mentioned earlier.

Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

In most cases, when drivers refuse to take a chemical test, they are still charged with DUI. Even though they won’t be specifically charged with driving with a BAC over 0.08 because of the unknown BAC, they can still be charged with a DUI according to the California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC, along with the refusal allegation.

Also, if you refuse chemical testing, you’ll end up with mandatory jail time on top of any other DUI penalties. Even if you take the officer’s breathalyzer test in the field but then refuse the chemical testing, you can still get charged with DUI refusal. To top it off, the DMV will suspend your license for a whole year, and you will not be able to get a restricted license during that time.

Finally, it is essential to note that if your DUI case proceeds to trial, your decision to decline a DUI breath test or blood test can be used as evidence of guilt against you.

Contesting Breathalyzer Results

The results of a breathalyzer can be challenged due to improper breathalyzer test readings by a police officer, machine malfunctions, improper administration, or inaccurate calibration. It is also possible to challenge DUI results if it can be shown that the procedural requirements weren’t followed.

Observation is mandatory for 15 minutes before officers conduct breath tests in accordance with §1219.3 of the California Code of Regulations. Ignoring this procedure can lead to inaccurate results.

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we profoundly understand the complexities of DUI law. We analyze defense strategies strategically and fight for your rights to achieve a positive outcome. We have proven track records of challenging Breathalyzer results. 

Securing a Strong Defense with Experienced Legal Counsel

Dealing with a DUI charge can feel overwhelming, but it’s crucial to understand the nuances of DUI breath tests and how they can impact your case in Los Angeles. By staying informed, you can improve your chances of contesting any inaccuracies, especially with the guidance of experienced legal counsel. 

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, our attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights. Our team will thoroughly examine all evidence, challenge questionable breathalyzer results, and work toward a positive outcome.

Let us help you with a wide range of cases, including DUI with drugs in California, assault, homicide, or even theft crimes. Don’t let a DUI charge control your future – contact us for a free consultation, and let us work together to determine the best plan of action. 

Schedule a free consultation with a top-rated Los Angeles criminal defense attorney today.

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