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Why passing a breath test doesn’t mean someone can safely drive

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2023 | DUI

When it comes to impairment caused by alcohol, the average person struggles to recognize when they should not drive. Even those who frequently drink alcohol may have a hard time knowing when to hand the keys over to a friend or call a cab. 

People now have the option of investing in a pocket breath test to check their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) before heading home. A growing number of venues also provide pay-per-use testing devices. Passing a test before leaving a bar or restaurant does not inherently mean that someone is safe to drive and can avoid arrest if they get pulled over by the police. 

Someone’s BAC can continue to rise after they stop drinking

Alcohol does not automatically reach someone’s bloodstream as soon as they finish drinking it. In many cases, an individual’s BAC will continue rising for some time after their last beverage. Particularly if someone finishes a drink immediately before exiting a bar or restaurant, their test results may not be reliable. 

A police officer might pull them over 20 minutes later, and they could fail the test administered at that time. Even if someone waits an appropriate amount of time between finishing their last drink and checking their BAC, issues with the testing device, including a lack of recent calibration, might lead to inaccurate test results. 

Someone who regularly drinks may find that having a pocket breath test or checking their BAC at a venue before leaving is a smart harm-reduction technique. In some cases, it could potentially contribute to a defense strategy if they get arrested. Recognizing the limits of self-administered breath tests may help Virginia drivers avoid impaired driving charges.