Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Tests and DUIs

A young woman is pulled over
We at The Law Office of James Novak believe that all people in the Phoenix area who have been charged with drunk driving should receive a fair shake from the law. That's why we offer skilled DUI defense focused on dropping or reducing charges and penalties. We also want to provide motorists with a basic understanding of their legal rights, their Constitutional protections, and other valuable information that can help them if they are pulled over and suspected of drunk driving.

With this in mind, let's look at how blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured and assessed and consider problems with the various testing methods.

About Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

Also known as blood alcohol concentration, BAC refers to the amount of alcohol present in a person's blood. This is a scientific measure of intoxication. Nationwide, the legal limit for BAC in regular motorists overs the age of 21 is 0.08%.

In order to measure BAC, there are different tests that can be performed that measure a person's breath, blood, or urine. Let's consider each.

Measuring Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Using Breath Tests

The breathalyzer tests is one of the most well known BAC tests out there. A breathalyzer when used during a traffic stop is a small device with a straw at the end that a motorist is asked to blow into. A full breath test is performed at the police station using a much larger and more accurate machine that works on similar principles.

Problems with Breath Tests

Issues with metabolism and contaminants in the mouth may lead to a higher BAC being measured with a breath test. Poor calibration of portable breath tests on the road and the breath test at the police station can also lead to incorrect results regarding BAC. People taking the test should breath normally, so if they are instructed to blow hard into the machine, that can lead to a false positive.

Measuring Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Using Blood Tests

Blood tests for BAC involve taking a blood sample and checking for the alcohol content in it. This form of BAC testing is done at the police station since it would be unsanitary and unsafe to take a blood sample while on the road.

Problems with Blood Tests

While blood tests are generally seen as the most reliable form of BAC test, there are still potential problems. Diabetes, the use of herbal supplements, and even just taking cough syrup can affect the results of a blood test and may lead to false positives. Human error, lab error, and problems with blood collection and analysis can similarly lead to incorrect results.

Measuring Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Using Urine Tests

Urine tests, which assess BAC using a urine sample, tend to be taken only when the breath test and blood tests are not available at the police station. In general urine tests are considered the least reliable measure of BAC.

Problems with Urine Tests

One of the problems with urine tests is the timing of the sample being taken. If a driver has not voided his or her bladder in some time, the urine may actually contain more alcohol since it accounts for drinking that was done earlier in the evening. Issues with human error and lab error can occur as well.

Schedule a Consultation at The Law Office of James Novak

For more information about your legal options following a drunk driving arrest, it's important that you contact our legal team about your DUI defense options today. When you seek the help of The Law Office of James Novak, you will receive a robust legal defense that will benefit you and help you make the smartest choices about your legal options.

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