How Reliable are BAC Tests? | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys

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How Reliable are BAC Tests?

This is the first of a four-part series of blogs covering the reliability of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests commonly used by law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania defines the illegal intoxication level of most drivers as 0.08 percent or greater. When an individual’s BAC reaches this level or higher, they may be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). The question that presents itself with this standard in place is: how is BAC accurately determined? As well, are BAC tests performed by or under the supervision of law enforcement officers actually reliable?

Are you facing a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania? At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we provide you with strong advocacy as your case proceeds through the Pennsylvania criminal justice system. Our goal is to develop an intelligent defense that produces the best possible outcome on your behalf. This defense may include the reduction, or if possible, elimination of the penalties and consequences you are facing.

To request a free case evaluation with one of our Pittsburgh DUI attorneys, call us today at (412) 281-2146.

BAC Testing Methods

The three most commonly used BAC tests are the breath test (breathalyzer), blood test, and urine test.

BAC Blood Test
Although less convenient and more intrusive than the other two BAC testing options, blood tests are considered the most accurate. A blood test is conducted within a hospital or clinical setting with a qualified medical professional taking a blood sample from an individual.

BAC Breath Test (Breathalyzer)
Law enforcement can test your breath for the presence of alcohol in the field through the use of a preliminary breath tester (PBT) or a breathalyzer. It is administered roadside (with your consent) at the traffic stop prior to your arrest. If there is enough probable cause to take you into the police station as a result of field sobriety testing, you may be required to take a formal breath test with a breathalyzer machine.

BAC Urine Test
Considered the least accurate form of BAC testing, a urine test for BAC is only used when blood and breath test options are not available.

Refusing to Take a Blood, Breath, or Urine Test

When a resident of Pennsylvania obtains a PA driver’s license, they are automatically placed under Pennsylvania’s implied consent law. This law requires drivers to provide consent to a blood draw, formal breath test at the police station, or urine test when requested by law enforcement.

Police must have probable cause that you have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in order to begin the DUI evaluation process with field sobriety testing and/or a portable breath test. Only then, if probable cause for further testing is established, will the process move to formal BAC testing.

Consequences of Refusing a BAC Test
Refusal to submit to one of the required BAC tests will result in automatic loss of your driver’s license for one year for a first offense, and 18 months for a second offense. The maximum penalties, as if you were charged with a BAC of .16 percent or higher, will also apply. This includes three days to six months in jail, and fines between $1,000 and $5,000.

The penalties for refusal upon a second or third DUI offense only increase.

These BAC tests are implemented in various situations. Certain tests are more accurate and reliable than others. In the next several blogs, we will investigate each of these tests in further detail. An experienced Pittsburgh DUI lawyer will have the skills and resources necessary to expose any inaccuracies or inconsistencies with a BAC test conducted in your case.

Contact an Experienced Pennsylvania DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania, don’t hesitate to obtain the legal support you need to mount an effective defense against the charges you are facing. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we know how to fight to minimize, the DUI penalties that threaten your future.

Contact us today at (412) 281-2146 to set up a free consultation.