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What is a chemical sobriety test?

On Behalf of | May 23, 2023 | DWI

The police can pull over vehicles under reasonable suspicion that the driver is breaking the law or doing something that could result in a traffic violation. During a traffic stop, the officer can ask the driver for their license and registration. After a few questions and visual cues, the officer may ask the driver to undergo an examination to prove whether the driver is sober or inebriated.

While some officers may have drivers do a standardized field sobriety test, others will ask drivers to do a chemical sobriety test. A chemical sobriety test often accurately determines a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Three tests help determine a driver’s BAC levels:

Blood and urine tests

Drivers can request to have a chemical test done at a hospital or police station. This typically happens when an officer requests a driver to undergo a blood or urine test. 

A urine test is somewhat intrusive and can take time before results are shown, but BAC results from a urine test are often inaccurate. A blood test is a fairly direct approach to examining a driver’s BAC levels, but the results can still be subject to errors due to the way the blood is drawn, handled or tested.

Chemical breath tests

The most common test people take is a breath test. A breath alcohol test is often carried by the police and a “Breathalyzer” device looks like a small, portable hand radio. This test examines someone’s BAC levels using their breath and often creates the most accurate result.

When a driver’s BAC levels reach above the legal limit of 0.08% or more, then they could be charged with a DWI. Drivers should be aware that they have legal rights during traffic stops — and that chemical testing isn’t infallible. Experienced legal guidance can protect your rights if you’ve been charged with drunk driving.