Getting arrested on suspicion of drunk driving can be a scary moment, especially being forced to take a breathalyzer test. With so many questions swirling through your mind, you need to know the right step to take. A Greenville DUI lawyer at The Bateman Law Firm can help you through this process.
Road accidents account for a significant number of deaths globally. In the United States, more than 38,000 people die annually, while an additional 4.4 million people are severely injured. Many factors account for these accidents, including overspeeding, distracted driving, disobeying traffic rules, and poor weather conditions.
However, one factor equally responsible for road accidents is driving under the influence. This could be alcohol or drugs. Drivers who drive under the influence of a substance have their decision-making ability impaired. Consequently, they run the risk of causing accidents for other motorists.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol-impaired drivers are responsible for more than 29 deaths daily. The CDC also reports that more than 10,000 people died in 2016 due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes. These accidents do not just lead to the deaths of their victims; it is also responsible for the loss of $44 billion annually. Therefore, it is no surprise that DUI cases are taken seriously.
What Is a Breathalyzer Test?
During a case in 1927, a police surgeon asked a suspect to inflate a football with his breath. The result showed that the man’s breath contained 1.5 milligrams of alcohol. As a result, the surgeon testified that the man was 50% drunk. Since then, breathalyzers have been increasingly used to determine a driver’s sobriety.
When the police stop an individual on suspicion of drunk driving, they first try to ascertain how drunk the individual is. They do this using different tests. The first involves asking the individual to perform specific tasks. A second test is the roadside breathalyzer which requires an individual to breathe into it to determine how much alcohol is in their system.
Roadside breathalyzers are not very accurate, and the individual could be taken down to the station to use a more accurate station-house breathalyzer. Alternatively, urine and blood samples could be tested for signs of intoxication.
Do I Have to Consent to a Breathalyzer Test?
Knowing how serious a DUI conviction can be, you may wonder if you can refuse a DUI test. In simple terms, you do not have to consent to a breathalyzer test. While the police officers may make it look like you don’t have a choice, you do. However, if you decide not to take a breathalyzer test, there will be consequences.
Police officers will generally ask you to take a breathalyzer test after taking some field examinations. This is because the legal limit for alcohol consumption is a .08% blood alcohol level. In most cases, two bottles of beer could put you above or within this limit.
Most people believe that they will be fine if they blow below .08 into the Datamaster. However, that is not always the case. Blowing between .05 and .08 could give the police reasons to allege that you may have been impaired, which they must confirm using more tests.
On the other hand, the breathalyzer may not be accurate and could malfunction. For example, if a breathalyzer has not been properly maintained, it could affect the readings. In addition, breathalyzer readings may not be accurate as they can be affected by changes in temperature, humidity, or breathing patterns. Similarly, cigarette smoke and other gases could affect its result.
It is vital to note that South Carolina has an implied consent law. According to this law, applying for and receiving your driver’s license means submitting to a test if you are arrested for DUI. However, the implied consent law does not require you to take field sobriety tests or blow into a portable breath test.
Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyser Test
As we said earlier, refusing to take a breathalyzer test has consequences. First, your refusal could be admitted into evidence and used against you at trial. The second consequence is that your driver’s license will be suspended for six months if you are a first-time offender.
Going by this, you may wonder what you should do when asked to take a breathalyzer test. We provide some answers here.
First, it is often better to refuse the test and have your license suspended. Compared to a conviction, this is a preferable outcome. Getting convicted of a DUI could affect your career and other aspects of your life.
It could also make it harder for the courts to forgive subsequent infractions. Refusing a breathalyzer test could also make it easier for your lawyer to get a favorable outcome for you. In other words, only take a breathalyzer test if you’re confident that it will show that you are not drunk.
Greenville’s DUI Lawyers Can Represent You!
A DUI arrest can have far-reaching consequences for anyone involved. Depending on prior records, you could face a fine, jail time, interlock devices, community service, or license suspension. Also, a conviction means getting a criminal record. Therefore, hiring a legal team is highly advised. Indeed, no two cases are the same, but a competent lawyer will analyze your case, helping you create an appropriate defense.
While it is possible to represent yourself in a DUI case, it is always advisable to have a lawyer represent you. Going from the potential consequences listed above, you could lose a lot if you are convicted of driving under the influence of a substance. Fortunately, a Greenville criminal defense lawyer can ensure you get the best possible outcome.
At The Bateman Firm, we use our experience and knowledge to ensure our clients get the best possible outcomes. We also protect your rights from unscrupulous arresting officers and prosecutors. Give us a call to learn how a Greenville criminal defense lawyer can help you.