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The following article was authored by Benjamin Lamm.  Ben is a communication specialist and blogger. He enjoys playing the guitar, spending time with family and social networking. 

Driving under the influence is a serious offense, which carries equally dire legal consequences. Knowing the legal rights and what law enforcement uses to build a DUI case, can help you understand the stats behind the drunk driving epidemic.

 

How Accurate Is a Breathalyzer Test?

 Unfortunately, a breathalyzer isn’t a very accurate means of determining actual blood alcohol levels. Error margins vary, depending on who is doing the study, but generally,  between 15 and 23 percent of tests show an alcohol level exceeding the true blood alcohol level.

A far more accurate test is a blood test. This need to be done immediately for best results. There is a history of DUI cases being dismissed when a blood test shows that the defendant was not above legal limits. In most locales, law enforcement uses breathalyzer testing in conjunction with both field sobriety tests and blood testing to build their case. 

 

Is a Field Sobriety Test Constitutionally Legal?

The case of Ray Anthony Gibson v. Commonwealth of Virginia in 2011 verified the constitutional legalities of the field sobriety test. The case revolved around the 5th amendment – wherein no person is required to present evidence against themselves. It was decided by a higher court of appeals that compelled tests, such as field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests, are exempt from the 5th amendment. Law enforcement can legally arrest you for refusing these tests.

 

Should I or Should I Not Blow Into the Breathalyzer Testing Machine?

Refusal to breathe into the breathalyzer can have major consequences. To begin with, you will likely spend the night in jail because an officer can arrest you for reasonable suspicion of DUI, even without a test. It can also impact your license, with many states revoking driving privileges for a test refusal.

Of course, if you test higher than the legal limit, you will also have your license revoked. This means there is no clear answer. If you suspect you may blow over the limit, it may be better to refuse the test and instead request a field sobriety test. If you can perform the field test, you may be able to get criminal charges dropped in court, thus saving your license and preventing a conviction.

“In general”, cautions NY DWI attorney Zev Goldstein, Esq., “Under the constitution you are not obligated to prosecute yourself! Instead, you have a right to make sure that the persecution does everything properly.” This is why it is usually advisable to get guidance from a competent traffic attorney in your state.

 

Can I get a DUI for listening to the car radio while intoxicated? 

In most states you can get a DUI for being behind the wheel of the car, whether you’re listening to the radio, waiting for someone to come pick you up, or even taking a nap. The reasoning is that you are in control of the car. If you must sit in your car after drinking, sit in the passenger or back seat so you can show you weren’t in control of the vehicle.

 

How Many Deaths Result From DUI Annually?

According to MADD, 28 people die daily in the United States as a result of drunk driving. That’s over 10,000 avoidable fatalities a year. If you have had more than one or two drinks, arrange for a ride: Uber, Lyft, a taxi, or a sober friend.  Why take a chance with your life or someone else’s?

 

Drive safely!