If you’ve had anything at all to drink, it’s wise to use a Breathalyzer to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) before you get behind the wheel. BAC is usually expressed as a percentage of alcohol in the blood. A BAC of 0.10 means that 0.10% (one tenth of one percent) of the person's blood, by volume, is alcohol. In California the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers is 0.08.
By signing up for a driver’s license, you are giving "implied consent" to having your blood alcohol level tested. So if you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI and refuse to take the test, your driver's license will be immediately suspended. Then, if you are later convicted of DUI based on other evidence, you could face jail time, a higher fine, longer DUI program requirements, and ineligibility for a restricted license.
If you do agree to take the test and you register 0.08% BAC or above, the officer will take your license away. You can request a hearing within 10 working days to lift the suspension, but if you're found guilty you will once again lose your license.
A Breathalyzer is a commonly used device for measuring BAC. Although blood alcohol levels can be tested with blood or urine, these are obviously not practical for a police officer on the roadside. The first breath alcohol testing devices were invented in the 1940s, and in 1954, Dr. Robert Borkenstein of the Indiana State Police invented the Breathalyzer.
Alcohol shows up in your breath because it is absorbed from the mouth, throat, stomach and intestines into the bloodstream. As the blood goes through the lungs, some alcohol moves across the membranes of the air sacs of the lungs, called alveoli, into the air. As the alveolar air is exhaled, the alcohol can be detected by the breathalyzer. The ratio of breath alcohol to blood alcohol is 2,100:1. So 2,100 milliliters (ml) of alveolar air will contain the same amount of alcohol as 1 ml of blood. Therefore, the BAC can be figured by measuring alcohol on the breath.
Don’t wait for a police officer to give you a Breathalyzer test. Keep a Breathalyzer of your own in your glove box and test yourself before you ever start your car. Even if you feel like you’re okay to drive, if your Breathalyzer result says otherwise, it’s not worth taking the risk. Lives are ruined every day because of drunk driving. Don’t let it happen to you.
At Hutton & Wilson we provide legal advice and representation for clients charged with DUI and criminal offenses in Pasadena, California, and communities throughout the Los Angeles metro region. Contact us for more information about our services.