As you likely already know, the long-term negative consequences of a conviction for driving under the influence, or DUI, can be considerable. A DUI conviction can have an impact on everything from you current and future employment opportunities to your right to visitation with minor children. More often than not, the most convincing evidence in a DUI case are the results of a chemical test. If you find yourself facing charges for DUI in Nebraska, therefore, you may want to know the answer to the question “How is your blood alcohol content (BAC) determined?”
Although every DUI stop and arrest is unique, the usual procedure has the arresting officer asking the suspect to submit to a chemical test after placing him/her under arrest. A breath test is most commonly used unless the officer suspects drugs, the victim is unconscious, or a breath test machine is not available. Although a blood test is more accurate, breath test machines are far more commonly used because they are less invasive, less costly, and can be administered and read by the average law enforcement officer with little training.
Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6, 196 makes it a violation of the law for a motorist to operate a motor vehicle:
With so much riding on the results of a chemical test it only makes sense to have a better idea how your BAC level is actually determined.
A breath test machine operates on the presumption that the amount of ethanol from alcohol found in your blood is the same as the percentage found in your breath. To test the amount of alcohol in a suspect’s breath, therefore, the suspect is asked to breathe out into a tube that effectively captures the exhaled breath. Depending on which breath test machine is used, the exhaled breath is then analyzed in one of several ways within the machine to test for the presence of alcohol. The percentage of alcohol found in the exhaled air is then converted into a BAC level.
In a perfectly controlled test, the results of a breath test would be extremely accurate and would reflect the amount of alcohol in your blood stream. Unfortunately, chemical breath tests are never administered under perfectly controlled circumstances. Everything from what the suspect ate for dinner (or failed to eat), to the last time the machine was calibrated, to the operator’s lack of experience can have a direct impact on the result.