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The Three Types of BAC Tests

Sep, 19 2017
bac tests

If a police officer pulls you over for drinking and driving, he needs to determine your BAC level. With a BAC level, he can get proof that you are over the legal drinking limit. Getting that level is as simple as administering a test. However, there are several different BAC tests. Find out how an officer can test you, and learn about which test might be best for you.

The Breathalyzer

The Breathalyzer is, by far, the most common of the BAC tests. However, they aren’t common because they are the most effective. They’re common because they are easy for officers to use and carry with them. As small and lightweight devices, breathalyzers are easy to bring on patrols. They also deliver immediate results, allowing an officer to measure your BAC level within minutes.

A breathalyzer works by measuring the amount of alcohol that travels through the blood vessels in your lungs and comes into the breathalyzer. In general, breathalyzers deliver accurate enough results for a prosecutor to build a DUI case against you. Fuel cell sensor breathalyzers are particularly well-accepted. However, breathalyzers aren’t perfect.

The issue with BAC tests like this one is that it makes assumptions. For example, it assumes that every person who breathes into the test has the same traits. But this isn’t the case; everyone is different. The readings from the breathalyzer can be inaccurate. Additionally, the tests can be affected by environmental issues. If there is paint, glue, or other chemicals at the time of the reading, the results of your test may not be correct.


Urine Tests

Not as common as breathalyzers, urine tests are one of the BAC tests used when there are no other alternatives. There are a few reasons for this. For one, it’s very intrusive. It’s much more intrusive than breathing on a breathalyzer. Secondly, it can be inaccurate. Urine tests tend to have a BAC that’s higher or lower than your actual blood alcohol level. Lastly, urine tests cannot occur at the time of the incident. Most urine samples occur long after an arrest. Alcohol could take about two hours to show up in a urine test, and it can show up in the test for up to 23 hours after. When you have a urine test as evidence against you, it may not be reliable.  Most officers avoid issuing urine tests unless they are absolutely necessary.

Urine tests occur the way you might imagine. After you give an officer a sample of your urine, he needs to send it to the lab for testing. Like blood BAC tests, this leaves your sample vulnerable to tampering. It’s a far from perfect method of testing your BAC.

Blood BAC Tests

An officer has a right to get a blood test from you. If you refuse, you could face a license suspension and other consequences. The blood test works similar to all the other BAC tests in that it measures the level of alcohol in your body. However, this test uses a sample of your blood to determine that level. Although it isn’t perfect, the blood test tends to be more accurate than urine or breath tests. There is a chance of inaccuracy due to issues in the lab. No lab test is impervious to human error.

To administer the blood test, there needs to be a blood draw. Then, the sample goes to the lab for testing. Although it’s a simple test, it is slightly invasive.

BAC Tests in Rhode Island

BAC testing differs by state. In Rhode Island, the state is quite strict when it comes to drinking and driving. The BAC for a DUI charge is .08 and above. However, those who are under 21 can face a DUI charge for a BAC of between .02 and .08.

An officer may request you to do a field sobriety test, a blood test, or a breathalyzer. If you fail to take one of the BAC tests, you will face penalties. The Implied Consent law stipulates that you need to comply with the officer. If you refuse to do so, you may face community service, a six-month license suspension, drunk driving school, fines, or an alcohol treatment program.

Although the penalty for refusing one of the BAC tests may seem high, you may want to consider refusing it. If your test results come back with a very high BAC, it can hurt your case in court. It will take an experienced lawyer to dispute the results of a BAC test, and there are no guarantees.

It’s important to note that you only can refuse a BAC if your situation was harmless to others. If you operated a vehicle and caused serious injury or a fatality, an officer can deny your right to refuse a BAC.

If you do choose to take a BAC test, you should request a breathalyzer or urine sample. Because of their inaccuracies, they are easier to dispute in court than a blood test. With the right lawyer, you can find yourself out of trouble.


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