Can I Still be Arrested If I Pass a Breathalyzer?

It’s been a long and fun night, and you had a few drinks at that bar in Manchester. Now you’ve been stopped by the police for a possible drunk driving offense. What happens next?

What Are the Rules?

In Connecticut, it is a criminal offense for you to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The main factor in making an arrest is whether your ability to drive is impaired. In Connecticut, this finding is not dependent on any determination about your blood alcohol level (BAC). Even a BAC well under the legal limit of .08 can impair your driving. And, if you’re under 21 years of age, that legal BAC drops to .02.

The Breathalyzer Test

Technically, you may refuse to take a breathalyzer. However, under Connecticut’s Implied Consent Law, anyone driving a motor vehicle is deemed to have already consented to take the test. Therefore, although you have the right to refuse, you will receive a suspension of your license for doing so. Indeed, under some circumstances, the officer may seize your license right at that moment. So, you want to think long and hard before refusing and may wish to call an attorney before deciding. In other words, you can lose your license for failing the test and lose it for refusing the test.

If You’re Stopped, Answer Questions Carefully and Truthfully

Even before he gives you a breathalyzer test, a police officer may ask you questions about your possible drinking and unusual or erratic driving. You can refuse, politely and respectfully, to answer. It is never wise to lie to the police. So, if you do answer, anything you say should be true and carefully considered.

Other Evidence the Officer May Consider

Regardless of whether you take – or pass – a breathalyzer, the officer has other evidence on which to base a DUI arrest. The officer may take you to the station to submit to a blood test. Even passing this test, however, is not definitive for arrest purposes. The police officer may have a body cam or dashcam, or traffic surveillance camera films may be available. Any of these may show conduct or driving behavior that indicates you may be under the influence. Similarly, if you have acted nervously during the stop, made strange statements, or displayed inappropriate emotions, these symptoms may also be evidence of intoxication.

Other Sobriety Tests

The officer may ask you to follow directions in taking a field sobriety test. These tests usually focus on your ability to understand and follow instructions. They also test your balance. If there is any non-alcohol-related reason you probably won’t pass such a test, explain it to the officer. You may have balance problems or be overweight. Respectfully inform the officer of any relevant facts.

Speak with a Manchester DUI Defense Lawyer

Remember, driving is a privilege, not a right, and the government can condition your exercise of that privilege in any way that isn’t arbitrary or capricious. Connecticut has conditioned that privilege in part upon your consent to a breathalyzer test. Consider your conduct carefully during any DUI stop and contact a Manchester defense attorney from Berman & Russo as soon as possible.