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Does a breathalyzer count as chemical testing?

Implied consent laws may be a new concept to many Mineola, yet they may be worth understanding in case you are ever in a position where a law enforcement officer asks you to take a sobriety test. Essentially, such laws state that by applying for the privilege of driving, you agree to submit to chemical testing in order to determine whether or not you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. New York does indeed have such a law, and a refusal of such testing could result in your license automatically being suspended for one year. Such a suspension may still be enforced by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles even if you are acquitted of the criminal charges leveled against you. 

Yet what exactly qualifies as chemical testing? Such testing refers to an actual chemical analysis of your blood, breath, urine or saliva. The most common test that you and others may associate with sobriety testing, however, does not fall into this category. Breathalyzer tests are actually referred to as "field tests" or "preliminary alcohol screenings." They are less reliable at accurately measuring your blood alcohol content, which makes their results inadmissible in court. 

According to Section 1194(b) of New York's Vehicle and Traffic Laws, you are only required to submit to field testing if you have been in accident or have violated the state's laws against drunk driving. The latter point is somewhat tricky, however, in that police are allowed to arrest you if they have reasonable grounds to believe you are driving drunk. The law defines "reasonable grounds" as: 

  • Visible behavior indicating you may be drunk
  • An open container in or around your car
  • Any other indicators that give the impression you are impaired

If you are arrested, then you must submit to chemical testing. 

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