Missouri DWI Breath Testing
Aug. 26, 2022
Drinking and driving is undeniably a dangerous practice. Because of this, Missouri handles its driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases seriously. However, just because you’ve been charged with a DWI doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or even that you’ll be found guilty. People in your situation have a lot of questions about what they can expect in the coming weeks and months, and one of the most common concerns I get is about breath testing in Missouri and the consequences for refusal.
If you’d like to know more about your options while facing a DWI charge, call me at Guilfoil Law Group. My offices are in Kansas City, Missouri, but I can help those in Clay County, Platte County, Jackson County, or anywhere in Missouri.
Can I Refuse a DWI Breath Test?
Like most states, Missouri prohibits people from operating a vehicle if they’re intoxicated with over a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC). For drivers of commercial vehicles, this limit is lowered to 0.04%, and for drivers under the age of 21, the limit is 0.02%.
Under state law, you can be pulled over for a suspected DWI if the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that you may be intoxicated. This could mean they observed you swerving between lanes, not signaling turns, or not coming to a full stop. Once they have you stopped, however, they must obtain more evidence to gain “probable cause” that you’re intoxicated, and one way they do this is with a breath test.
All drivers are subject to the state’s “implied consent” law. This states that if an officer pulls you over and has reasonable grounds to believe you’re intoxicated, they can require — but not force you — to perform a breath test. You do have the right to refuse this test, but there will be consequences for this decision, including a possible one-year revocation of your license. However, there are two types of breath tests (a portable breath test (PBT) and a breath test after arrest), and only the latter is mandated by this law.
What If the Equipment Was Faulty?
Many people facing a DWI charge want to know how much the breath test will affect their case and if there’s any way to refute its results in court. Fortunately, there are several possible defenses that could be used if you feel your breath test did not accurately reflect the situation.
One option is to question the reliability of the test itself. Most officers use a PBT, which is a handheld device used in most roadside stops. These tests are not as accurate as a breath test administered at the police station and can have faulty readouts if they’re not calibrated correctly or if they’re not administered correctly by the arresting officer. Other factors, like how long it had been since you had something to eat or drink, what medication you’re on, or even if you had recently used breath mints, can affect the results.
Next Steps if You’ve Been Arrested for DWI
The first thing you should do if you’ve been arrested for a DWI is to contact a local criminal defense attorney. An experienced lawyer with knowledge of state and local ordinances will be able to advise you on your next steps to ensure you’ll receive a fair trial.
Your lawyer will investigate your case and listen to your side of the story so they can explore all angles of a possible defense. You should also refrain from answering any questions by law enforcement until you’ve been advised by your attorney. Anything you say can be used against you by the prosecution, and you don’t want to accidentally incriminate yourself.
Don’t Risk Your Future. Call Now.
If you’re in the Kansas City, Missouri, area and have recently been arrested for a DWI, call me today at Guilfoil Law Group to schedule a consultation. The potential consequences of a DWI conviction are serious, and you need someone fighting on your side during this difficult time.