Drunk Driving: Do I Take the Breath Test

Shortly after being pulled over for drunk driving you will be administered a breath test. Then later at the police department you will be asked to submit to another breath test. The results of these tests will have a significant impact on your future, and whether a drunk driving conviction will be reported on your public record.

Two Breath Tests

In the typical Drunk Driving scenario, individuals will be asked to submit to two breath tests. The first is a preliminary breath test (PBT) offered on the street or at the location of the initial stop. The second test is called the Datamaster test (BAC Datamaster test or DMT test) offered at the police department.

In general, but with exceptions, the PBT test is not admissible as evidence in Court. The penalty for refusing a PBT is a civil infraction that results in a fine. When the police ask you to take a PBT they are simply seeking additional evidence to help justify the arrest that is likely coming.

The Datamaster test taken at the police department is a critical piece of evidence that the Prosecutor will use against you. Unfortunately, there is no simply answer as to whether you should take the Datamaster test. An understanding of the consequences when refusing the Datamaster test and a thorough analysis of the circumstances must be considered.

Refusing the Datamaster Test

When you apply, and are approved, for a Michigan driver license you consent to submit to a breath (Datamaster) or blood test. This is what attorneys refer to as theImplied Consent law. The police officer gets to choose which test to offer (you do not get to pick). Refusing the Datamaster test, or blood test, after a proper DUI arrest will result in a 12 month suspension of your license and 6 points on your driving record. If you refuse a breath or blood test, there is a very high probability that the police officer will then seek (and be able to obtain) a search warrant to draw blood. However, the potential benefits of refusing a breath or blood test could be:

1. the police officer decides not to obtain a search warrant or does not have the time to obtain a search warrant (this is unlikely),

2. the time to obtain a search warrant will allow your BAC (blood alcohol level) to lower,

3. legal deficiencies with the arrest or warrant could result in a reduction or dismissal of a DWI charge, and

4. error or contamination occurred during the blood draw or testing of your blood.

To Take or Not to Take is a Strategic Gamble

A knowledgeable and experienced Macomb County DUI attorney will always be able challenge the administration and result of a breath and blood test. But ultimately, it is a strategic gamble as to whether or not you submit to the Datamaster test or blood test. In a scenario where a driver is not pulled over for improper driving, passes all or refuses all of the field sobriety tests and refuses the PBT, then it may be a good strategy to refuse the Datamaster test.

Please remember that the law says you must submit to a Datamaster test or a blood test. Refusing to do so is technically against the law and will result in a 12 month license suspension. And please don't drink and drive. Have a designated driver, call or cab or walk home.