What Are Preliminary Alcohol Screeners?

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In order to measure the blood alcohol level of a driver suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol, local law enforcement will use a preliminary alcohol-screening test in the field. This is a type of hand-held breathalyzer with standard accurate measurements of the concentration of the liquor in the bloodstream as tested through the breath of the driver.

The Preliminary Alcohol-Screening or PAS test used for suspicion that someone is drinking and driving may occur when the driver is under 21 years of age and the local law enforcement officer has reasonable belief that he or she was drinking while driving. Administering the PAS test is the first part of this situation after getting out of traffic. However, the officer will generally ask some questions first and then may determine that the person behind the wheel is either partially or fully inebriated. The PAS test administration may occur unless the officer does not have this device, then he or she may use another version of breathalyzer or a blood test.

A Positive Reading

The usual blood alcohol content a driver of a passenger vehicle may have is no more than .08 percent. This is the legal limit across the United States for those 21 and over. However, if the driver is under this age, the BAC of .01 may lead to the person facing jail time. The driverís license may undergo suspension with only a temporary one replacing the standard until 30 days passes. It is not legal for anyone in the country to drink when under 21 and caught driving will usually lead to further penalties that could also end with the car towed and impounded and jail time until someone comes for the person.

Effects of Inebriation

One reason for suspicion that the driver is under effects of drinking and driving is swerving on the road. Even if the person behind the wheel is attempting to avoid obstacles, this could alert local law enforcement to possible sings of drinking alcohol. Other factors may include inconsistent speeds with either frequency in speeding or excessively slow driving. Erratic behavior is often noticeable in those that consume alcohol and drive. This could lead to the necessity of administering the preliminary alcohol-screening test. Then, during the short interview, the driver may slur his or her speech or have unusually dilated pupils.

The aftereffects of someone drinking and driving are found in those that run over items or collide with another vehicle. Accidents may increase in frequency when the driver has consumed enough alcohol for his or her BAC levels to increase beyond the legal limit of .08 percent. This is significantly negative for someone under 21. He or she could face serious fines, a night or two in jail until someone comes with bail or even a revoked license. Many must commit to community service with hundreds of possible hours to repay the violation to the public. Increased insurance premiums and other negative impacts are possible with insurance companies.

After a Failed PAS

When the driver is unable to pass the PAS test, he or she will usually discover his or her license suspended. The driverís vehicle is usually put in impound for up to 30 days. Then, the person will either need a ride home or may go to jail until someone makes bail. This failed test could remain on the individualís record for up to ten years. It is illegal throughout the country for anyone under 21 to drink and driving while doing so generally increases penalties. A DMV form is usually the next step. This could involve an Administrative Per Se Suspension or Revocation Order and Temporary License form. A hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles is important for the driver to receive or appeal any action against his or her license or record.

Refusal to Test and Legal Support

In the states that require the PAS test, the driver signs a form that permits law enforcement to administer alcohol and drug testing when pulled over under suspicion. If the person refuses the testing, he or she will see the license suspended for up to one year. The signing of the form constitutes implied consent.

If the driver faces legal action due to the PAS test failing, it is generally important to seek legal representation. A lawyer may assist in mitigating the damage and protecting the rights of the driver in these situations. This could help in keeping the driverís license and protecting his or her freedom.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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