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What is a chemical sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2023 | DUI/DWI

The police have several methods of collecting evidence against drivers they suspect of drunk driving. A driver may be asked whether they were drinking or coming from a bar or the police could have the driver perform a field sobriety test. 

However, the most accurate way to gather evidence against a driver is via chemical sobriety tests. A chemical sobriety test evaluates the blood alcohol content (BAC) in the body. Someone’s BAC is the amount of alcohol found in the body at the time of testing.

There are different kinds of chemical sobriety tests. Drivers may wish to know what options they have if asked to take one. Here’s what you should know:

Urine and blood tests

Urine and blood tests both measure a driver’s BAC by sampling bodily fluids. These tests typically must be taken at hospitals and police stations, which is why few people consider taking these tests. A blood test is usually more accurate than a urine test. However, lab errors and several other factors can cause inaccurate BAC readings. 

Breath tests

A breath test, also called a breathalyzer, is a small portable device that the police can carry to administer sobriety tests. A driver would be asked to blow air into a small port on the breath test. The test will then evaluate the driver’s BAC levels. While not as accurate as blood tests, these tests are often easier to take and preferred by drivers. If a driver can’t blow enough air into a breath test, they may be asked to take a urine or blood test. 

Under implied consent laws, drivers may face penalties, such as imprisonment and fines, after a lawful arrest if they don’t do a chemical sobriety test. Drivers facing criminal charges after a traffic stop may need to learn about their right to create a legal defense.