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Understanding BAC in relation to OUI charges

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | OUI/DWI |

If a Massachusetts police officer takes you into custody for suspected drunk driving, you can expect several things to happen. A police officer will request that you take a chemical test, which might be a Breathalyzer, blood or urine test. A chemical Breathalyzer shows the level of alcohol concentration in your blood, also referred to as blood alcohol content (BAC) level.   

When you consume alcohol, it moves through your digestive system and your liver processes it. Your bloodstream then absorbs excess amounts of it. If your BAC is .08 or higher, you may not legally operate a motor vehicle in this state. A BAC metric measures the amount of alcohol your body contains per milliliter of blood. If your test shows .08, you are legally intoxicated.  

Various factors can affect your BAC 

Your age, weight and genetics all have an impact on your BAC. Other issues that can affect the rate of absorption of alcohol in your body include the amount of food you have eaten while drinking alcohol. (Eating food slows the absorption rate.) The amount of alcohol you’ve consumed, as well as any drugs or medications that may be in your body at the time, will also affect your BAC levels.  

Refusing a Breathalyzer test following an OUI arrest 

During a traffic stop, you are under no obligation to take a roadside breath test or perform a field sobriety test. There are no penalties for refusing. Following an OUI arrest, however, if you refuse to take a Breathalyzer or other chemical test, you will undergo a driver’s license suspension, either temporarily or permanently, depending on the details of your case.  

This suspension comes as a penalty under implied consent rules. When you obtained a Massachusetts driver’s license, you agreed to take a chemical test if asked to do so following an OUI arrest. You are still free to refuse to take the test. However, be prepared to lose your license if you do.  

Are Breathalyzers always accurate? 

Only a person who is certified to administer a Breathalyzer test should be doing so. The device itself must be properly calibrated, otherwise it can produce skewed results. Such tests are known to be unreliable in many instances. If you believe your test results were inaccurate or that the chain of command did not properly handle evidence, you can bring such matters to the court’s attention.  

A criminal court judge might decide to dismiss a case or rule that certain evidence is inadmissible in court. This is why it’s important to learn as much as you can about how a Breathalyzer device works and where to seek support if you are facing OUI charges in Massachusetts.