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Types of Chemical Tests for DUI

If you are pulled over for a suspected DUI (driving under the influence), you can expect there to be a number of tests that will be given to determine if you are intoxicated.

Darley Law will help you consider your options at this time, and it is advised that you take this incident seriously as you face jail time, loss of license, and fines.  

Alabama DUI Laws

Even a first offense can bring serious penalties such as a fine up to $2,000 and a loss of license up to 90 days.  You may be jailed up to one year under Alabama law.

Also, under state law, first time DUI offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than .15 percent will be required to have an ignition interlock device on their car.

That’s why it is important to understand your options.

Field Testing for DUI

When you are suspected of driving under the influence, you face some choices. The police officer will want to confirm his suspicion and perform a field sobriety test on the side of the road to determine if you are impaired. 

There are only three field sobriety tests approved by the state.

They include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, a one-legged stand, and the walk and turn test. Any other field tests such as reciting the alphabet or touching your nose with your finger, are not approved tests.

If you have not been drinking, ask the officer to turn on his field camera to film any sobriety test. 

You have the option of avoiding a DUI conviction by refusing a field sobriety test, however, this may not sit well in the courtroom if the judge or jury hears you refused a blood alcohol test. That said, refusing the test may still be a good decision because it will give the police less evidence for which to charge you for drunk driving.

Chemical Tests for DUI

The field tests are one thing, chemical tests will give a more accurate and reliable answer as to the degree of intoxication. They are also more intrusive.

All of the tests rely on the same theory – that after consuming alcohol it enters the bloodstream where it can be measured.  The body attempts to remove the alcohol via its metabolism, excretion, and evaporation.

Under Alabama code (32-5-192) by using Alabama roads, drivers have given an automatic consent to a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, your license will be suspended.

There are three types of chemical tests for sobriety or intoxication:

Breath Analysis– This is commonly measured through a portable breathalyzer. It measures the alcohol concentration in your blood through a breath sample. It is considered an indirect chemical measurement, but a breathalyzer is not always accurate.

You may not have a choice of chemical tests, but the breathalyzer is the least invasive.

Urine test – A somewhat more intrusive test is a urine analysis.  The driver gives urine after he is suspected of drinking. This may be less accurate than other tests because it takes up to two hours after consuming alcohol for it to show up in the urine.  It too should give an estimate of blood alcohol concentration. 

Blood Test – This would be considered a direct sobriety test. Expect that blood will be drawn to determine the BAC or blood alcohol concentration which is highest about one hour after drinking. You may request you’d rather give blood at a hospital than a police station and you have that right.

The blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08% BAC is considered legally intoxicated. These chemical sobriety tests are used in court to prove you exceeded the legal limit for driving under the influence, and they are the basis for a drunk driving charge.

DUI Measurements

As with many tests, there are variables that must be taken into consideration that your defense firm will want to examine if you are charged with DUI.

For example, you may be taking a cough syrup that contains alcohol and this has the potential to change a blood sample showing intoxication. 

Another example might involve the passage of time.  If you are brought into the police station after being taken into custody and an hour or two has passed, the accuracy of a urine sample may not reflect your BAC at the time you were behind the wheel. 

Subjecting someone to a breathalyzer at the scene has been known to be affected by cell phone interference or by someone who is experiencing irregular breathing.

Know Your Rights After a DUI Allegation

If you have agreed to or refused field sobriety tests, you will need someone to advocate for you before the court.

You may have options to avoid license suspension while your DUI charge is pending.  Each of these testing options has advantages and drawbacks, and your experienced defense attorney will help you explore the options for the best outcome in your case. Darley Law serves the legal needs of Mobile County. Call us for a complimentary initial consultation at (251) 732-7058.  

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