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St. Louis Breath & Blood Tests

Should I Refuse A Breath or Blood BAC Test?

A Missouri DWI conviction requires the State to prove the defendant was operating a motor vehicle and was intoxicated above the State legal limit at the time. Evidence collected in a DWI case can include:

  1. Police Officer Observations
  2. Defendant Statements
  3. Field Sobriety Test
  4. Portable/Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)
  5. BAC Results

As you can see, most of the "evidence" used in a DWI case is very subjective and open to many interpretations. Only blood alcohol content (BAC) test results provide some form of objective evidence and even this has many potential problems. Without a test to secure BAC results, the prosecution will have a weak case against you. This weakness will be the focus of an experienced DWI lawyer to dismiss the drunk driving case.

How will police check my BAC?

A growing trend with police departments is the use of a portable breath test, sometimes called a preliminary breath test or PBT Test. The PBT is a small handheld device used to help the officer determine if the possible intoxication level of a driver is over the legal limit. This device is gaining popularity because many police officers have arrested a person suspected of drunk driving only to later find out that the driver´s blood alcohol content does not exceed the state legal limit. This demonstrates the bias some police officers bring into the equation when evaluating driver behavior, conversations with the driver and field sobriety tests.

However, these portable breath tests are not admissible in court and can only be used to help establish probable cause. This is because the units are highly susceptible to error and damage in the field. Since these units are small and portable, they are often not calibrated or maintained properly.

Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

The only BAC test that you must submit to is the one that occurs after you have been arrested. Refusing to submit to a BAC test, through either a Breathalyzer, urine or blood test, is grounds for serious legal consequences. Should you refuse, a law enforcement official will seek a warrant from a judge to have blood drawn to test your alcohol levels and your driver’s license will be immediately revoked.

In refusal cases:

  • A first offense can carry a heavy penalty, including driver’s license suspension for a year and a substance abuse course.
  • A second offense refusal can include 10 days or more in jail, in addition to your license suspension, and the required substance abuse classes.

These are allegations that could cause irreparable damage to your record and affect your ability to secure a job. By refusing, you will automatically be arrested. However, without a BAC result, the prosecution’s case will be weak and our attorneys can focus on receiving a dismissal for your case rather than a conviction.

Let Our St. Louis Team of Attorneys Fight For You

The State of Missouri has an Implied Consent law. Under Implied Consent, if a driver refuses to submit to a BAC test (usually blood or breath), the driver´s license is supposed to be revoked for 1 year. However, in many jurisdictions in the St. Louis area, an experienced DWI attorney can save a first time offender from losing his or her license in connection with a refusal case. While many police officers know this, they will use this law to scare people into submitting to the BAC test because the police know the BAC test result will be the strongest part of their case.

However, with the assistance of Millikan Wright, LLC attorneys, we can help to combat the charges should you refuse to take the Breathalyzer test and fight for you to be able to maintain your driving privileges and freedom. There are numerous instances where refusal to take a Breathalyzer test can in fact help your case. Our DWI attorneys will represent you and use their years of experience combating DWI refusal charges to help minimize your penalties or have your case dropped completely.

If you have been charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in the City of St. Louis and refused to take a Breathalyzer test contact the attorneys at Millikan Wright, LLC for a free consultation.

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