If you’ve spent any time near bars or night clubs, chances are you’ve seen the phrase “Do Not Blow!” plastered everywhere from billboards and posters in the bathroom to koozies and pens being passed out at the bar.
You probably don’t even know why you shouldn’t blow; but it’s coming from a law firm, so it must be good advice, right? While this used to be a solid strategy, things have changed. If you find yourself pulled over after a night on the town, you might do well to reconsider that old slogan and actually take the breath test. Here’s why.
Forget What You Think You Know about DWI
Back in the day, refusing to take a breath test left the officer with little choice than to arrest you and take you down to the station for actual testing. Your refusal to take the initial breath test leaves the cop with less evidence of your intoxication, which is to their disadvantage should the case go to trial. But this was before.
Now, major counties like Harris County treat every day like a no-refusal weekend and will issue a warrant every time a breath test is refused. If you’re suspected of driving while intoxicated, a warrant for a blood test can be issued easily and quickly. While both blood and breath “sciences” are riddled with problems, breath test results are less relied upon by juries. Juries are more likely to believe that the scientific process of a blood test is much more sound, leaving less room for reasonable doubt.
Why Breath Tests are the Safer Option
Jurors may believe blood tests because of its generally perceived reliability, but that belief can sometimes yield misleading results. Your level of intoxication may seem allegedly more incriminating than it actually was.
Blood tests are typically sent off for drug screenings after it has been analyzed for alcohol concentration. Even if you don’t use any illegal drugs, this could still leave your case in a dangerous spot. Many medications have a synergistic effect when combined with alcohol. This means that, in theory, the mixture of the alcohol and prescription drugs in your system may be argued to be more intoxicated even under the legal limit.
Even worse, the State of Texas will try to say that common prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are intoxicating on their own. In Harris County, any blood test under 0.12 will be sent off to a lab in Austin and tested for drugs. So even if your BAC was below the legal limit, the drug analysis component of the blood test could still leave you stuck with a DWI charge!
Disclaimer: if you blow 0.000, they could put you through a Drug Recognition Evaluation, but you do not have to agree to do that evaluation.
The takeaway? Current breath tests only measure alcohol intoxication and cannot detect drugs or medications.
Breath Tests Can Help Make the Most of a Bad Situation
The Thiessen Law Firm has a lot of success achieving “Not Guilty” verdicts for our DWI clients, but, that said, sometimes keeping the case out of court is best for everyone. While there are times when we are able to get bogus charges dismissed altogether, certain counties allow for Pretrial Diversions (PTD).
In a PTD, you are allowed to satisfy a series of criteria similar to probation in exchange for your case to be dismissed before it goes to trial. In Montgomery county and other parts of Texas, the District Attorney will only offer a Pretrial Diversion program if the accused actually submits to a blood or breath test.
In other words, if you went the “Do Not Blow” route, you are guaranteed to not to be eligible for the PTD program, leaving you with the decisions of trial or accepting a plea deal.
Why the Science Behind Breathalyzers is so Bad
Although Texas is known to take law enforcement seriously, it’s hard to tell when you scrutinize the pieces of junk they use to determine intoxication. On that note: ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the Intoxilyzer 9000 breathalyzer, which was delayed in being implemented because of software issues. These machines are currently rendering false positives for natural human conditions such as diabetes or ketosis.
Juries tend to be much more skeptical about the results of the Intoxilyzer 9000. And it’s this underlying reasonable doubt that tends to be very helpful as they deliberate their final decision.
The Only Exception to “Do Not Blow”
The only reason you should ever refuse a breath test is if you are concerned that your BAC may be 0.15 or over. In Texas, a 0.15 BAC or higher enhances a DWI to a Class A misdemeanor, doubling the range of punishment to $4,000.00 and 1 year in jail. With higher stakes on the table, the old frat house legal advice about sobering up on your way to the station might actually pay off.
The average human body eliminates about 1 drink or (0.02 BAC) per hour. So if you’re right at 0.15, and it takes the cops another hour and a half to get you to the station and through blood testing, these results could theoretically put you back in the misdemeanor Class B category.
Spread the Word: Blow Before You Bleed!
“Do Not Blow” used to be perfectly valid legal advice, but times have changed and that old slogan could make your situation worse. If you’re pulled over on suspicion of DWI, refuse the biased roadside coordination exercises and agree to take a breath test. The resulting night in jail will be much less painful than a DWI conviction.
As a lawyer-scientist, I have mastered the science behind intoxication analysis and have used this knowledge to successfully fight both blood and breath tests in court. If you find yourself facing the wrong end of a breath test, stay calm, don’t say anything that will incriminate you and call me and the team at Thiessen Law Firm. With trial-tested defense strategies and a passion for justice, I promise to defend you tirelessly at every step of your case. Schedule your free consultation today.