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Is a Breath or Blood Test Better?

In all of our years in DUI defense, we’ve heard the same questions repeated over and over again. One of the most common questions being, “Is it better to take a breath or blood test?” The answer depends on the details of your arrest since each DUI suspect’s circumstances are different.

Before someone is arrested for DUI, the officer usually asks him or her to take a series of roadside tests, known as the “field sobriety tests.” When a DUI suspect delivers a bad performance on these tests, what comes next is the PAS test, which is a handheld breathalyzer device that the driver blows into.

Before vs. After the DUI Arrest

By law, drivers do not have to submit to the field sobriety tests and there is no penalty for politely refusing. In fact, the suspect doesn’t have to take any of these tests (before the arrest) since doing so can implicate them of a crime before being arrested.

However, once an arrest has been made, it’s a whole different story. You must choose to take either a breath or a blood test under California’s implied consent law. If you say “no” to a blood or breath test, your driver license will be automatically suspended for one year.

Unlike the roadside PAS test (taken before the arrest), to take the post-arrest breath test, the DUI suspect is taken down to the station and their breath is tested by means of a desktop breath testing machine. As a DUI suspect, you have the right to choose between a breath and blood test – remember that.

Know that blood tests may provide more accurate BAC readings than breath tests. If you’re confident you have little to no alcohol in your bloodstream, choosing a blood test may be a better option. This is because a blood test can conclusively show you were not under the influence. For those who suspect they could have a BAC near or above .08%, blood tests may be harder to refute.

When Breath Tests Are Better

A breath test can be a better option if you were driving above the legal limit. Breath tests are usually inaccurate in determining blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and there are a number of factors, including medical history and diet, that can result in the test producing a higher BAC reading than the driver actually experiences. Your defense attorney can use the evidence to show that the BAC reading from a breath test was unreliable in your case.

What to remember:

  • If you are confident you are below the .08% legal limit, a blood test may be better since it is unlikely to show that you were over the legal limit for driving.
  • If you suspect you are over the legal limit, opt for a breath test since these results are easier to challenge in court.

In either scenario, you should have an experienced DUI attorney review the results of your tests and assist you as you in fighting your charges. Contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. to speak to a Board-Certified DUI defense lawyer for free!