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What You Should Know about Refusing the Chemical Tests

Interviewer: When someone refuses a Breathalyzer or a blood draw and an officer gets a warrant, how long would it take for the officer to get that warrant?

Brian: It depends on what city you are in.  Certain cities have streamlined the procedure.  It really could take anywhere from ten minutes to an hour.  During that time, some people think, “I’m going to try and delay things as much as possible.  Maybe I have had a little bit too much to drink.  Maybe I’m going to try to delay things so that some alcohol leaves my body.”

Refusing the Chemical Tests as a Delay Tactic May Not be the Best Option

There’s a couple things wrong with that.  One is it takes a long time for alcohol to leave a person’s body.  Alcohol is eliminated from a person’s system at an average rate of .015% per hour.

The second thing wrong with that is that a person doesn’t really know whether they are in the absorption phase or the elimination phase.  In waiting for a longer period of time to pass, the person may actually be harming themselves by allowing more alcohol to be absorbed into their system, which would result in higher blood alcohol content than they might have received an hour previously.

Alcohol’s Absorption and Elimination Rate

Basically, before someone starts consuming alcohol, they are completely sober.  They would register 0.00 blood alcohol content.  As they consume alcohol, their blood alcohol level goes up over a period of time and it continues to rise. Usually, the average person will stop absorbing alcohol into their system about an hour after their last drink.  There have been some scientific studies.  I believe in one study the maximum was about five hours that it took before a person was fully absorbed of all their alcohol.

Upon full absorption, they basically reach the peak, which is the highest point in which their alcohol content would register.  At that point, the elimination of alcohol overtakes the absorption of alcohol and the person begins eliminating the alcohol over the course of a few hours until they become completely sober again and would register a 0.00 on a blood test result.

How Reliable Are the Results Obtained from the Breathalyzer Machine?

Breath tests can be faulty in some ways.  A number of police agencies have gone to blood tests; blood being more reliable.  Breath tests can be faulty depending on the conditions of the atmosphere.  Radio frequency interference can interfere with a breath test result.  Sometimes people have issues with their teeth or issues with their gums.  The breath testing machine is meant to test the deep lung air within a person.

Sometimes because of medical issues or just one reason or another, a person has something wrong with their esophagus.  They have something in their throats.  Maybe they have some gum in their mouth.  Maybe they have a piece of bread in their mouth, which is a substance that can collect alcohol.  There are substances that can retain alcohol so that the breath test, that is meant to test the deep lung air is, instead, testing something that it wasn’t meant to test.

Radio frequency interference just on a technical aspect of the machine can hinder an accurate result.  There have been reports of a radio frequency interference indicating high blood alcohol content, despite the lack of any alcohol in the person’s system.  Just generally, the machines are fallible.

By Brian Douglas Sloan

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Brian Douglas Sloan


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