Pros v. Cons of Breath v. Blood Tests in DUI Stops

Pros v. Cons of Breath v. Blood Tests in DUI Stops

When a traffic officer requests that a driver submit to blood alcohol content (BAC) testing in a DUI stop, the driver will typically have a choice between submitting to a breathalyzer or a blood test. Because these tests are conducted in different ways, there can be some pros and cons to each option, particularly if the test results become an important part of a future DUI defense case.

We’ll point out some of the upsides and potential downsides to breath versus blood BAC tests below.

Breath Tests in DUI Stops

With breath tests, traffic officers in Colorado have to wait 20 minutes before administering breathalyzers, observing the driver during this time to ensure (s)he doesn’t burp, regurgitate or consume anything. After this, the driver blows into a breathalyzer device a few times. If the margin of error for each sample is within a specific range, the lower (or lowest) BAC reading will be the reported value.

  • Potential pros: The waiting period for administering breathalyzers can be beneficial to DUI suspects. For instance, this waiting period can provide some time for BACs to drop; it may also be helpful in challenging breath BAC results in the event an officer failed to abide by the waiting/observation period.
  • Possible cons: Breath samples cannot be retested in the future. Although this can limit options for refuting these BAC results, an experienced lawyer can pursue other options, such as finding inconsistences or issues with breathalyzer calibration records.

Blood Tests in DUI Stops

With blood tests in DUI stops, a certified blow draw technician will need to take the samples, after which the blood samples will be transported to a lab for BAC analysis.

  • Potential pros: Blood samples can be retested in the future, and retesting these samples can be integral to revealing when BAC results may be questionable, if not completely unreliable. Another benefit of blood BAC tests is that there tends to more room for mistakes to be made by authorities (as errors and possible contamination can happen at various points, including during sample transport, storage and/or analysis by the lab).
  • Possible cons: In general, the biggest downside to blood tests can be the waiting period associated with getting the BAC test results. That’s because it can take weeks for these results to be returned.

The Bottom Line on Choosing BAC Testing in DUI Stops

When it comes to selecting a breath versus a blood test in a DUI stop, the bottom line is that the circumstances of the stop and the driver can impact whether a breath or blood test is the better option. What drivers should also know, however, is that the following two choices may be far more important than the choice of blood versus breath testing:

  • Whether to submit to BAC testing in the first place – We’ll discuss the impacts of this in an upcoming blog.
  • Whether or when to contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer after a DUI arrest.

Contact an Adams County and Boulder DUI Attorney at Peter Loyd Weber & Associates

Have you or a loved one been charged with a DUI in Colorado? If so, an Adams County and Boulder DUI attorney at Peter Loyd Weber & Associates is ready to immediately start defending you. Our primary concern is protecting your constitutional rights throughout the criminal process while helping you obtain the best possible outcome to your case.

To talk about your defense and how we can help you, call us today at (720) 863-7755 or email us using the contact form on this page.  We offer complimentary consultations, and we take pride in always being available to our clients – 24 hours per day, 7 days per week – so that they have the personal attention their case deserves.

Categories: DUI, DUI Stops & Arrests