William L. Morris
Blood and Breath Tests
Arizona law makes it illegal to drive if you are "impaired to the slightest degree." Tests have proven that BAC is a relatively accurate way to judge the level of impairment of alertness, reaction time, inhibitions and coordination caused by drinking alcohol. The higher your blood alcohol concentration, the more impaired you are.
Blood Alcohol Concentration Testing
There are two main methods of testing for Blood Alcohol Concentration or "BAC" used in Arizona: Breath tests and blood tests.
Breath Tests are done with what is known as the Intoxillyzer 8000 manufactured by the company, CMI. They are also commonly referred to as a "breathalyzer". When you blow into one of these devices, your exhaled air is trapped in a chamber and an electrical current is applied to the chamber to burn the alcohol in the chamber. The combustion is measured and a result is a number which is supposed to indicate your blood alcohol concentration. Intoxillyzer 8000 results are generally admissible in court. However, the "readings"/"results" provided by these machines are fairly suspect in regards to accuracy and reliability and leave ample room for attacking the result obtained by such. results are not specific to only alcohol, which means other substances can also trigger higher readings when using this machine. Additionally, the Intoxillyzer 8000 can be subject to a multitude of other errors caused by a lack of proper maintenance, etc.
Then there is the Portable Breath Test ("PBT"), this is the device officers ask you to blow into in the field while still on the side of the road during the preliminary phases of most, if not all, DUI investigations. Readings provided by these machines are so highly suspect in regards to accuracy and reliability that the results they produce are NOT admissible in Arizona courts!
Blood tests are by far the more accurate of the two types of testing. Blood is drawn from the driver either at a police station or at a local medical lab or hospital. Those samples are then analyzed for alcohol concentration.
Do you have to submit to a breath or blood test?
State law requires your express consent to a blood test. Without your express consent to the blood test, the police must obtain a search warrant to obtain your blood sample. Also, you can refuse the Intoxillyzer 8000 breath test by simply not providing a sample. However, if you refuse either or both of the blood test and/or Intoxillyzer 8000 test, you will lose your license for at least 1 year. THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO THE PBT HOWEVER! Never ever blow into a PBT device, EVER! After all, the PBT is not even admissible in court to establish your BAC content. Then why do the police use it you ask? The cops use it strictly to establish probable cause that you were driving while impaired simply so they can cuff you and stuff you and take you to the station to conduct the blood test and/or a breath test on the Intoxillyzer 8000.
Additionally, you can request to have your blood and/or breath taken by and tested by an independent laboratory of your choice. You'll have to pay for the procedure and test, but you will then have your own evidence to use in court to dispute any tests taken by the police.
Finally, ALWAYS ASK TO SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY BEFORE YOU SUBMIT TO ANY TESTING WHATSOEVER OF ANY KIND INCLUDING FIELD SOBRIETY TEST(S)!
It is NOT like on TV's C.S.I. Shows
Breath and blood tests for DUI are prone to error even in the best of circumstances. Both tests can be compromised by human error, poor maintenance, faulty equipment, interference from outside sources, and other malfunctions.
If you were arrested after submitting to a breath or blood test, please waste no time in contacting my office. I have extensive experience in DUI defense and know many effective ways to challenge the accuracy or admissibility of a breath or blood test in court.
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