If you are stopped by the police and suspected of DUI, the odds are that the police officer will ask you to consent to a breath test at the scene to test your blood alcohol level. Many people believe that by agreeing to the test, they will be seen as cooperative and the officer will “go easy” on them. This could not be farther from the truth.
What the officer is actually doing is seeing if you have any alcohol in your system at all. If the breath test confirms that you do, then you are essentially telling the officer that he has at least a chance of proving that you are under the influence to the extent that you are less safe to drive. This does not require a blood alcohol content of .08% to prove. Rather, the officer only has to show that the alcohol in your system has affected your ability to think, function and safely operate a vehicle. To gather evidence of your impairment, the officer can subject you to field sobriety tests that are almost completely subjective—whether you pass or not is completely up to him. More often than not, you will “fail” one of these tests and be arrested and charged with DUI. This could have been prevented if you had just refused the preliminary breath test.
It is worth noting that the results of the on-scene or preliminary breath test are inadmissible in court. This is because the machine that the police use, the Breathalyzer, has been shown to be scientifically inaccurate. If the court does not trust the test, neither should you! If you are asked to perform the on-scene breath test, just say no.