the stricter counties

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It’s late, you’ve had a few drinks and you get pulled over driving. The highway patrol officer presents a Breathalyzer device. It is within your rights and might be in your best interest to refuse and opt for a blood test.

For various reasons, roadside breath tests are sometimes inaccurate. Among other factors, the Breathalyzer units can be calibrated incorrectly and the police officers that handle them are not always certified to do so. While it’s not well known and police generally don’t advertise it, no driver is required to take a breath test if asked.

Granted, refusing one can be grounds for being taken automatically into police custody and in some states can be presented to a jury. Still, certain drivers, including those with a DUI conviction already on their record, may have little to lose and plenty to gain by asserting this right.

Consider a hypothetical example of a man we’ll call Bruce:

Bruce received a misdemeanor conviction for driving under the influence after taking a plea bargain on advice of a public defender; his Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) reading from a roadside Breathalyzer test had registered just over the legal limit in California of 0.08 percent.

Bruce had been prosecuted in one of the stricter counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the back of his mind, he always wondered if he had really been legally drunk the night of his first arrest. Thus, when the highway patrolmen approached his car with his Breathalyzer unit in hand, Bruce was ready this time around.

The officer asked for a copy of Bruce’s California Driver License and whether or not he had been drinking. Bruce replied that he had. Earlier, Bruce had consumed three Coronas and a shot of Tequila dinner with coworkers

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