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DUI: Chemical Breath Test vs. PAS Test

There is frequent instance of drivers being pulled over by cops and then asked to take a Breathalyzer test. There are two methods of testing, namely chemical testing, for which the driver has to be taken to the station, or an on the spot PAS (preliminary alcohol screening) exam which is done at the roadside. However, despite the common misconception, these are two widely separate tests with different legal ramifications and a potentially disjoint set of requirements. Here’s what each test entails:

PAS Test

Most people are quite familiar with the PAS test, or the roadside sobriety kit carried around by officers. Since it only employs a simple field sobriety test kit, it is relatively easy to use and provides an insight into the blood-alcohol content of the driver. However, as the PAS test is not entirely accurate, with results ranging up to 15% from the actual Blood alcohol content, it is not recognized in the court for legal ramifications. Various factors can interfere with the results of the PAS breathalyzer test, such as:

  • Dirt
  • Nail polish
  • Police radios
  • Cleaning products
  • Smoke
  • Relative humidity
  • Cell phones
  • Breath mints
  • Gasoline

As with all field sobriety testing, the PAS test is completely optional and the officers are bound by law to inform you of your rights. If they fail to advise you of this, this could be construed an illegal search. However, refusal to comply with the police could ensue in a suspension of your license and an unsavory trip down to the local precinct for an obligatory chemical breath examination. Worst still, if you get convicted, you could be subjecting yourself to the installation of an ignition lock device.

Chemical Test

Chemical testing can incorporate a urine test, a blood test, or a stationary breath analysis, demanding on the requirements. The stationary breath analysis is similar to a PAS test, but the test is conducted inside the controlled ambiance of a police station rather than roadside. The potential contaminants are eradicated in this test. However, vomit or blood in the mouth can sometimes alter the results of the test.

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