If you have ever been pulled over under suspicion of drinking and driving in Florida, there is a good chance you have been asked to undergo a breathalyzer test. As the preferred method of gauging a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) in the state, breath tests are the norm in Florida. We’ve broken down everything you need to know.
How Do Breathalyzer Tests Work?
Breathalyzers are instruments used by law enforcement to estimate the alcohol content in a person’s bloodstream. In Florida, they are most often used to determine whether a driver is operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Breathalyzers utilize three technologies to measure BAC. They include:
- Semiconductor oxide sensor
- Fuel cell sensor
In technical terms, breathalyzers contain an anode—a negatively charged electrode—and a cathode—positively charged electrode. When you use a breathalyzer, the ethanol in your breath reacts with water from the air and is oxidized to form acetic acid. Generally speaking, breathalyzers don’t truly measure blood alcohol content, but instead provide a relatively accurate estimation based on the ethanol in your breath.
What Breathalyzer Test is Used in Florida?
Law enforcement officials in Florida use a breathalyzer known as the “Intoxilyzer 8000,” a device manufactured by CMI, Inc., based in Owensboro, Kentucky. Because the alcohol concentration released from a person’s lungs is directly correlated to the concentration of alcohol in the blood, the Intoxilyzer 8000 measures a person’s BAC by analyzing the amount of infrared light absorbed by ethyl alcohol within a breath sample.
Potential Issues That Could Arise with a Florida Breathalyzer Test
A critical problem with how the Intoxilyzer 8000 works is that it is incapable of assessing ethyl alcohol levels specifically. All “methyl” group organic molecules (such as acetone, diethyl ether, or methyl alcohol) absorb infrared light the same way, so BAC measurements can be unreliable.
Methyl group molecules can also present in a person’s breath for reasons unrelated to alcohol consumption, such as natural causes, use of mouthwash, or breathing in fumes from:
- Lacquer thinner
- Chemical cleaners
If you think there may have been an issue after taking an Intoxilyzer 8000, it’s crucial that you get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Can You Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer Test in Florida?
Florida, like almost every other state, has what is known as an “implied consent law.” What this means is by exercising your driving privileges in the state, you automatically give consent to undergo an approved sobriety test when requested by a police officer. Therefore, you could face serious penalties if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test during a traffic stop.
While the consequences for refusing a breathalyzer test vary in Florida, most drivers face suspension of their driver’s license at the least. The suspension could last for months, years, or even indefinitely. Some non-compliant drivers could also face charges for driving under the influence (DUI) because many see refusing to comply with a breathalyzer test as evidence of guilt.
Discuss Your Breathalyzer Test Results with a DUI Defense Attorney in Florida
Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel has over 30 years of experience crafting robust defense strategies for Floridians accused of driving while under the influence. Mr. Gabriel has conducted extensive research on the Florida breathalyzer test, the Intoxilyzer 8000, and has identified the instrument’s vital weak points. He will handle your case using all the knowledge and skill developed over the span of more than 30 year career.
Start with a free consultation today by calling Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel at (561) 475-5952. You can also complete an online contact form to learn more.