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PAS Test vs. Chemical Test

What is the Difference Between Refusing the PAS test (Breathalyzer Before Being Arrested) Versus Refusing a Chemical Test (Breath or Blood Sample After Being Arrested)?

If you ever find yourself pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving, you will need to be your own advocate until you have the opportunity to get an Orange County DUI attorney involved. Below, we include some necessary information on the difference between the PAS test—the Breathalyzer test applied before an arrest—, and a chemical test—the breath or blood test applied after an arrest. Ingrain this information in your long-term memory, as it can make a huge difference in terms of potential penalties for a DUI-related accusation.

The PAS Test

The first thing to note about a preliminary alcohol-screening (PAS) test, or pre-arrest Breathalyzer test, is that it cannot be the grounds for an arrest and, regardless of how it is presented, is entirely optional. While police officers will generally present PAS tests as mandatory and note your refusal to take them, the mere fact of the refusal is not in itself illegal.

The PAS test is given to measure a driver’s blood alcohol level. If you take the PAS test and are demonstrated to have a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher, you will immediately be arrested and your vehicle impounded. If, however, your level is lower than 0.08% and you are at least 21 years of age, you will immediately be released.

Historically, however, the roadside PAS devices used by officers have been deemed far less reliable than their post-arrest counterparts. While PAS results are now generally accepted as valid evidence in jury trials, the technology still has a number of accuracy issues and must be calibrated quite regularly. Additionally, while the roadside PAS tests can check the presence of alcohol, the actual amount of alcohol consumed often remains quite vague.

What this means in terms of a DUI-related offense is that PAS results, while sometimes a huge nuisance at the time of the test, can get thrown out by a high-quality local DUI attorney.

Generally, it is recommended that you do NOT agree to a PAS Test if you have been drinking at all, as it may indicate a falsely high level of alcohol content based on a variety of factors.

The Chemical Test

Unlike the PAS Test, the chemical test takes place following a person’s arrest and is mandatory, meaning that you generally have to take the test or face harsh punishment. By receiving a driver’s license and filling out the associated paperwork, you have essentially agreed to provide this sample in the case that you are ever arrested on a DUI-related charge.

If you refuse to take this test, you may face a number of penalties, both in terms of your court case and at the DMV. Almost universally, the DMV will find you in violation of the California Implied Consent Law, and your license will generally be revoked altogether within ten days, lasting for at least a year. If you are found to have a BAC over 0.08%, however, you may still receive a restricted license to drive to and from work, an option removed if you refuse the chemical test.

Orange County DUI Attorney

Furthermore, while a DUI generally results in a 3-month California DUI school, refusal to take the chemical test instead results in a 9-month term in addition to two extra days of jail time. If you are being arrested on a second or third DUI charge, however, these penalties increase exponentially.

If you have been arrested for DUI, it is imperative you contact our office as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Chad Maddox we offer free consultations over the phone, or a free face to face consultation. Please call to have or schedule your free consultation today. Let us shed some light on your recent DUI arrest, and legally, get you back on the road.