Busted and buzzed? Should you blow into the breathalyzer?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2024 | Dui |

Getting pulled over on suspicion of DUI can be scary. The flashing lights, sirens, and officer’s questions can make you forget everything you thought you knew.

One of the first things you might be asked is to take a breathalyzer test. But should you? In Pennsylvania, there are consequences for refusing, but the test itself isn’t foolproof. Let’s break down what you need to know.

Implied consent law in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has an “implied consent” law. This means that by driving in the state, you automatically agree to submit to a chemical test, like a breathalyzer, if you’re arrested for DUI. Refusing this test comes with a hefty penalty: an automatic license suspension of 12 to 18 months.

So, should you always take the breathalyzer?

Not necessarily. While refusing has a guaranteed punishment, a breathalyzer test result can be used as evidence against you in court. However, it’s important to remember that breathalyzers aren’t perfect. Here’s where things get interesting:

  • Machine errors: Breathalyzers can malfunction, especially if not properly maintained. An attorney can challenge the test’s accuracy.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions can impact breathalyzer readings. Having a medical explanation for a high result could be part of your defense.
  • Other substances: breathalyzers can sometimes detect substances other than alcohol, which could lead to a misleading result.

These are all challenges your attorney can bring up when it is time for your hearing. It is important to have skilled representation when you are facing drunk driving charges.

Fighting a DUI charge even after taking a breathalyzer

Even if you take the breathalyzer, there are ways for an attorney to fight a DUI charge. Here are some tactics they might use:

  • Challenging the stop: If the police officer didn’t have a good reason to pull you over, the entire DUI arrest could be thrown out.
  • Field sobriety tests: These roadside tests are subjective and can be unreliable. An attorney can argue that you performed poorly due to nerves or other factors.
  • Blood test vs. Breathalyzer: Blood tests are generally considered more accurate than Breathalyzers. An attorney might argue for a blood test result to be used instead.

Keep in mind that if you’re pulled over for DUI, the best course of action is to politely refuse to answer questions and request to speak with an attorney right away.

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