Attention Alabama motorists: did you know that you are legally required to perform a breathalyzer or other chemical test if a law enforcement officer suspects you of driving under the influence (DUI)? Indeed, under the state’s Implied Consent Law, refusing to perform any type of chemical test will lead to your arrest and—in some cases—carry harsher penalties than failing.
Implied Consent: What It Is And How It Affects You
If you’re not familiar with Alabama’s Implied Consent Law, you’re not alone. Nevertheless, as a licensed driver, you are expected to abide by it. In simple terms, this law requires all motorists to submit to chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine tests) if they are ever suspected of driving under the influence. When you initially received your driver’s license, you agreed to comply with this requirement.
Penalties For Refusing A Chemical Test
So what happens if you refuse to take a chemical test? First and foremost, you can expect to be arrested and charged with DUI. The officer will also notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of your arrest, which will automatically trigger an administrative license suspension (ranging anywhere from 90 days to several years, depending on your prior record). Although you can appeal your suspension, you must request a hearing with the DMV in order to do so—and you have just ten days after your arrest to submit the request.
In addition to losing your license, you will also face a number of criminal penalties if you are convicted of violating the state’s Implied Consent Law. Assuming this is your first DUI, your sentence may also include a $600 to $2,100 fine and possible jail sentence—and if you are a repeat offender, a subsequent conviction will carry even harsher penalties.
Fortunately, with the right legal strategy, many drivers who are arrested for refusing a breathalyzer are able to get their charges reduced or dismissed in court. If, for example, the officer who arrested you failed to inform you of the state’s Implied Consent Law, as well as the consequences of refusing to perform the breathalyzer, your charges may be dismissed as a result.
As one of Alabama’s top DUI defense law firms, we have helped a number of clients successfully fight their Implied Consent law violation in order to retain their driving privileges and avoid a DUI conviction. Our attorneys will examine the circumstances of your drunk-driving arrest and breath test refusal to find evidence that can be used for your defense.
DUI Breathalyzer In Alabama
Even if you have never been pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI) in Alabama, you probably know that the state’s law enforcement agencies rely on breath tests, or breathalyzers, to identify and apprehend drunk drivers. But what exactly is a breathalyzer and how does it work? Continue reading to learn more about these very important tests.
BAC: What It Is And How It Affects You
From a legal perspective, a driver’s level of intoxication is based on his or her blood alcohol content, or BAC. In simple terms, BAC is a unit of measurement used to indicate the percentage of alcohol found in a person’s bloodstream. Under federal law, any person operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered legally impaired. However, Alabama law also requires commercial vehicle operators to abide by a 0.04% BAC limit, while underage drivers must adhere to a lower BAC limit of just 0.02%.
If an officer suspects you are under the influence of alcohol, he or she will most likely administer a breathalyzer to determine your exact BAC. As you can probably guess, a breathalyzer works by measuring the amount of alcohol detected in a sample of your breath. If the test indicates you have an illegal amount of alcohol in your system, you can expect to be arrested and charged with driving under the influence—even if your ability to drive is not actually impaired.
There are two types of breathalyzers that can be used by officers in the field: the first test is typically administered at the scene of the traffic stop, and is known as a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS)—this test is entirely voluntary. The second test, meanwhile, is the official breathalyzer, and must be performed at a medical facility or police station. It is important to know that, under the state’s Implied Consent Law, you are legally required to perform this test. In fact, if you refuse, you will be charged with DUI and face the same penalties as someone who failed.
Challenging A Breathalyzer
Although breathalyzers are based on scientific calculations, they are not always 100% reliable. Like most tests, a number of factors can affect a person’s breathalyzer results—such as gender, weight, and metabolic rate, just to name a few. Some medical disorders—including heartburn and gum disease—as well as products like gum, cough medicine, and breath mints, can also impact a person’s test results. Unfortunately, breathalyzers use a standard set of data to calculate BAC and therefore, do not take these factors into consideration.
If you were recently arrested for DUI after failing a breathalyzer, it is important to obtain legal representation immediately. Attorneys understand the breath tests–along with their failings. Thanks to their experience, our defense lawyers can investigate your breathalyzer results in order to uncover any potential errors and challenge your reading.
To learn more about challenging your breathalyzer results, please submit your case information via our online form today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Roadside Sobriety Tests In Alabama
In Alabama—and across the United States—law enforcement officers rely on roadside sobriety tests to help them identify and apprehend drunk drivers. However, because these tests are highly subjective, they do not always deliver accurate results, and many motorists are falsely charged with driving under the influence (DUI) as a result. If you were recently arrested for DUI after failing one or more sobriety tests, it is best to discuss your results with an experienced attorney.
What Are Roadside Sobriety Tests And How Do They Work?
In most cases, if an officer suspects a driver is under the influence of alcohol, he or she will ask you to perform a series of seemingly simple exercises—such as walking an imaginary line or balancing on one foot, for example. Although these so-called tests are supposed to allow the officer to evaluate the driver’s motor skills and cognitive abilities, they are actually designed for failure and, more often than not, their results will be used as evidence against you.
Only three tests have been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) –the one-leg stand, walk-and-turn, and horizontal nystagmus tests (the “follow-the-pen” with your eyes exercise). Unfortunately, many officers continue to administer tests that the NHTSA has deemed unreliable for identifying drunk drivers (these are known as non-standardized sobriety tests). You should always let your attorney know if the officer who arrested you administered any non-standardized test—such as those that involve counting backwards, reciting the alphabet, or touching your nose with your finger, for example.
Challenging Sobriety Tests
There are many ways to challenge a roadside sobriety test. First and foremost, if the test was not administered correctly, the results may be deemed unreliable. You may also be able to challenge your test results if the officer did not provide the proper testing instructions. Certain environmental factors—such as weather and traffic conditions—as well as personal characteristics, such as your weight, age, and physical disabilities, can also affect your performance on many roadside sobriety tests.
If you were recently arrested for DUI after failing one or more sobriety tests, you may need to obtain legal representation in order to prevent your test results from being used against you in court. Each member of our legal team has undergone intensive training on the standardized field sobriety tests, and have the experience necessary to challenge your results.
To learn how you can contest your field sobriety tests, please complete our online form today to schedule a free consultation.