What You Need to Know About Arizona Breathalyzer Laws

arizona breathalyzer lawsBreathalyzer laws differ by state.  Arizona’s particularly harsh breathalyzer laws are on the books to identify and subsequently punish drunk drivers.  When an Arizona police officer suspects someone operating a vehicle is under the influence of alcohol, he or she will request the driver partake in several field sobriety tests.  The police officer can also ask this driver to provide a breath sample.

Refuse or Agree to a Breathalyzer Test?  That is the Question

Drivers in Arizona have the option of agreeing to the breathalyzer test or refusing it.  However, if you refuse a breathalyzer test after being pulled over, the police officer can request a warrant to conduct the test.  The logic in refusing a breathalyzer test is that it provides an opportunity to buy more time as the police officer seeks the warrant.  Arizona judges really do work on such requests 24 hours a day.  This means a breathalyzer refusal might only create a short-term extension.

It is possible the police officer will obtain a warrant in half an hour or less.  If you consumed several alcoholic drinks, it will take much longer than half an hour for your blood alcohol concentration to decrease.  Refusing a breathalyzer test is also problematic in that the police officer is empowered to take away your driver license.  In the state of Arizona, there is the possibility for confiscated drivers licenses to be suspended for an entire year.

The alternative is to agree to the breathalyzer test.  If you give your consent to be subjected to a breathalyzer test and the results show alcohol in your breath, you might be barred from driving for a period of three months or even an entire year.  Arizona also requires such guilty drivers to pay a fine to the state’s Department of Transportation.  This fine is meant to reinstate the driver’s license at the appropriate time.  The fact that a positive breathalyzer test also forces the installation of a mobile breathalyzer known as the ignition interlock at the end of the driver’s license suspension is salt in the wound.

About the Ignition Interlock Device

As noted above, those who receive a DUI in Arizona must have an ignition interlock device installed in the vehicle.  This machine requires the driver to blow into it so the alcohol concentration can be read.  In fact, some Arizona police officers carry these devices in their vehicles to administer after pulling over supposed drunk drivers.

Arizona relies on several companies for the installation of breathalyzers in the vehicles of those convicted of drunk driving.  The device must be checked every single month to ensure it is functional.  If any alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath, the vehicle will not start.  Though plenty have tried to bypass this system by having a sober family member or friend blow into the machine, the masterminds behind this technology engineered it so it mandates the driver blow air into the machine at various times throughout the drive.  This method of testing for drunk driving is known as rolling testing.

A driver who fails a breathalyzer test mid-drive will not be subjected to immediate ignition turn-off yet he or she will be provided with a warning to pull over.  In fact, the system might even force the vehicle to flash its headlights or honk its horn.  All the details of the test results are recorded and saved in the breathalyzer device.  The business that conducts breathalyzer maintenance and calibration will receive copies of these test results if the driver has failed three or more rolling tests in a row or violated the acceptable level of blood alcohol concentration allowed for driving.

Click here to find out how harsh are DUI laws in Arizona.