St. Louis DWI Defense Law Firm
If the police suspect that you are under the influence of alcohol during a traffic stop, they will likely request that you submit to certain tests to determine whether you are intoxicated. Among the various tests that they may perform include an analysis of your breath to determine your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC.
The Preliminary Breath Test
The preliminary breath test (PBT) is a small device which allows police to determine whether there is a positive or negative presence for alcohol. This is usually conducted at the scene of the traffic stop as part of field sobriety testing and should always be done prior to an arrest. It should also be the very last test administered by the police officer while at the scene of the stop. It is used confirm the officer’s suspicion that alcohol is involved. It should not be the basis for a DWI investigation. Often, if the test results in a negative finding for alcohol, the officer will then call a “drug recognition expert.”
The accuracy of this type of testing has been called into question in many jurisdictions, and any errors with the way that the machine was calibrated or the way in which the test was administered may result in the results being deemed inadmissible in court.
An important distinction is that this preliminary breath test is not the test that results in a one year revocation of your driver’s license if you refuse to take it. That rule applies to the test done after you are read the Missouri Implied Consent Warning, in which the officer tells you that you are under arrest for suspicion of DWI. (as further explained below)
The Police Station/Evidentiary Breath Test
If you are arrested for DWI and taken to the police station, you will likely be asked to take another breath test. This test is conducted on a different type of machine that is, in theory, thought to be more accurate because the machine at the station is supposed to have certain safeguards in place. Breathalyzer test results are not nearly as cut-and-dry as they may initially seem, and there are often ways that an experienced lawyer can challenge their validity.
As mentioned above, any issues with the way in which the machine was calibrated or the test was administered may result in the test result being deemed inadmissible in court. In addition, certain medical conditions and the officer’s failure to abide by the proper procedure can cause unreliably high breath test results. Because of these and other issues, anyone that is facing a DWI/DUI case in which the results of a breath test are being used as evidence should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
Refusing to Take a Breath Test
Under Missouri law, anyone who operates a motor vehicle on public roads has impliedly consented to the chemical testing of his or her blood, breath, saliva, or urine if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that he or she has been driving while intoxicated. As a result, if you refuse to take the test, the officer will usually tell you that you will lose your driver’s license for a period of one year. This is true even if you are not criminally convicted of DWI.
What you are commonly not told by the police is that you will not immediately lose your driver’s license if you refuse the breath test. Although you will be given a notice of revocation, it does not actually begin for 15 days. This means that you have 15 days to retain counsel that can petition the court and obtain a stay order on your behalf. The stay order, issued by the circuit court, will allow you to continue driving while your lawyer can challenge your case. If you unfortunately miss the initial 15 day deadline, an attorney can still obtain a stay order for you as long as one is applied for within 30 days of the incident.
Please note these time deadlines are NOT negotiable. Once 30 days have passed you will not be able to challenge the revocation and you will not be able to obtain a stay order.
For this reason, it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as you can after you have been arrested for drunk driving.
Call a St. Louis DWI Defense Attorney Today
A DWI arrest can have an extremely negative impact on every aspect of your life. Fortunately, there is help available. The lawyers of Muhlenkamp & Bernsen are experienced criminal defense attorneys who understand how to protect the rights of people accused of drunk driving. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today at 314-499-7255.