The problem with alcohol testing before getting behind the wheel

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Blood Alcohol Tests

Bars and restaurants make money the more that their patrons drink, but they also risk a degree of liability if they break alcohol service rules. Dram shop laws sometimes lead to insurance claims and lawsuits brought against businesses because of their practices when dispensing alcohol to the public.

Many companies that generate revenue through alcohol sales carefully train their staff members to ensure proper compliance with state service laws. They may also post signage throughout the business clarifying policies and provide certain amenities to reduce the likelihood of a patron driving drunk.

Breath test devices that people pay to use are one tool for helping businesses deter drunk driving. Unfortunately, they can give motorists a false sense of confidence. Someone who has tested their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) before leaving a bar or restaurant could still end up arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) charges. Why doesn’t testing guarantee compliance with the law?

A test could be inaccurate

The biggest risk factor when trusting chemical analysis of a device in a public setting is the likelihood of inaccurate results. Breath test systems analyze a sample of exhaled air to look for certain types of molecules. To provide an accurate reading, these devices need regular calibration and up-to-date software. Maintenance and calibration failures by the owner of the device or the party operating the business could lead to unreliable test results which in turn lead to people getting arrested.

Someone’s BAC can continue rising

The way that the body processes alcohol is a lengthy undertaking. The sooner after finishing a drink someone performs a test, the more likely the results are to be inaccurately low. It can take some time after an individual’s last drink before a BAC test accurately reflects their current alcohol levels. Therefore, the test performed at a business might be accurate at the time that someone took the test, but they may find that their results are far higher when a police officer tests them later.

Tactics that people use to gauge intoxication are almost all subject to failure at some point. Understanding the limits of self-testing can potentially help people avoid DUI charges. Those who get arrested despite their best efforts might be able to use their attempts at compliance as part of their defense strategy.

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