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The Breathalyzer Test – Just Some Facts

DUI-300x231The best evidence that the police and the prosecutors have to prove a DUI in Court is a Breathalyzer Test. While it is not necessary for the State to have a breathalyzer test to prove you guilty of a DUI in Court, it is the best evidence that the state can have in a DUI case. I frequently talk to clients who do not understand what a Breathalyzer Test is and how easy it is to get a result that could make it very difficult to fight a DUI case. I want to discuss some facts about the Breathalyzer Test and eliminate some common misunderstandings.

What is a Breathalyzer Test?

The Breathalyzer Test measures the ratio of alcohol to blood or breath. A motorist is asked to blow into a machine, usually at the Police Station, and the machine will record a result which indicates what the alcohol to blood or breath ratio is. In Illinois, a blood alcohol ratio (BAC) of .08 or above is considered to be over the legal limit. If you are under the age of 21, you cannot have any alcohol in your system while operating a motor vehicle. For motorists under 21, if the breathalyzer test detects the presence of any alcohol, that would be enough to charge you with a DUI. If you are a school bus driver, you can be charged with a DUI if a breathalyzer test detects the presence any alcohol in your body. If you are a commercial driver’s license holder, a BAC of .04 or above above is enough to arrest you and charge you with a DUI.

How Much Do I Have To Drink To Be Over The Legal Limit?

The BAC result depends on how much alcohol was consumed and how quickly the alcohol is absorbed by your body. The rate of absorption depends on your gender, weight, amount of food consumed, and your body’s tolerance to alcohol. It takes roughly 1 hour for one drink of alcohol to work its way through your body. The only way to get rid of alcohol after it is consumed is for time to pass for the alcohol to work its way through your body. A cup of coffee, a shower, or food, will not make you sober. Coffee will make a drunk person more alert but will not reduce the BAC level.

A typical 170 lb. male needs about 4 drinks in a one hour period to reach a BAC of .08. A typical 170 lb. male needs less than 3 drinks to have a BAC of .04. A typical 137 lb. female needs less than 4 drinks to have a BAC of .08. A typical 137 lb. female needs to consume less than 3 drinks in an hour to have a BAC of .04. These are all approximations which provide a very general estimation of how much alcohol needs to be consumed in an hour. This should not be considered definitive of how much alcohol you can consume before your BAC reaches a certain level.

Am I Required To Take A Breathalyzer Test?

In summary, no. You are not required to take a Breathalyzer Test when you are asked to buy a police officer. However, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, your license will be suspended for 12 months starting 46 days after the date of your DUI arrest. If you take a breathalyzer test, and your BAC results are above the legal limit, you will be facing a six-month suspension of your driver’s license beginning 46 days after the date of your DUI arrest.

In most DUI cases, a motorist will be asked to take two-tests to measure the BAC level in their body. The first test is known as a Portable Breath Test (PBT). The PBT is administered at the scene of the DUI arrest. The results of a PBT are not admissible in Court for purposes of proving you guilty of a DUI because it is not considered reliable enough to be admitted in Court to prove what your BAC was. The PBT results are used by the police officer to establish probable cause to justify the arrest for suspicion of DUI. The actual Breathalyzer Test is administered at the police station using a calibrated and tested machine that produces results that can be admissible in court to prove you guilty of a DUI. If you refuse to take the PBT at the scene of the arrest, your driver’s license will not suffer any adverse penalties for refusing to take a PBT.

The Average DUI Case

74 percent DUI arrests involve men. 52% of DUI arrests are for motorists under the age of 35. 34 is the average age for a person charged with a DUI. Most DUI arrests happened between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. on the weekends. The average BAC content for a DUI offender in Illinois is .16. .16 is double the legal limit for a DUI. In addition, a BAC of .16 carries additional penalties for a DUI sentence.

James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, DUI lawyer, with over 28-years of experience handling DUI cases throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. Recently, James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois for the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021” by the American Society of Legal Advocates. James Dimeas was named a “Best DUI Attorney”, a “Best DUI Lawyer in Schaumburg”, and a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago” by Expertise. James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer” by the National Trial Lawyers. The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois”. James Dimeas is rated ‘Superb’ by AVVO, 10 out of 10, the highest rating possible for any DUI lawyer in the United States. The American Society of Criminal Law Attorneys named James Dimeas a ’10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction”. Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Award for Illinois”.

If you are facing DUI charges in Illinois, you can contact James Dimeas anytime for a free and confidential consultation. You can always talk to James Dimeas personally by calling him at 847-807-7405.

Additional Blogs:

What Happens if I Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer Test in Illinois?, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, May 16, 2017.

How Should I Answer Police Questions When I am Pulled Over for a DUI?, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, February 13, 2018.