Utah DUI Breathalyzer
In Utah, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for individuals operating a vehicle is .08% (or lower for drivers under 21). To find your BAC, law enforcement agents can use two types of breathalyzer tests during the course of a drunk-driving investigation: a portable breath test and the evidentiary breath test. If your BAC is over the legal limit, you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI), a criminal offense that carries a number of severe penalties.
The Portable Breathalyzer
When you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, the officer's goal is to collect as much evidence as possible to establish that a crime was committed. This may be done though the administration of field sobriety tests or the portable breath test.
Less reliable than the evidentiary breathalyzer, the portable breath test is used to determine if there is probable cause to make a DUI arrest. Although your exact reading from the portable breathalyzer cannot be entered as evidence against you in court, the officer could say whether or not your BAC was sufficient to arrest you for drunk driving.
The Evidentiary Breathalyzer
The evidentiary breathalyzer is administered at the police station, once you have been placed under arrest for DUI. The results of this breath test are considered to be more accurate; thus, they can be used as evidence during your trial.
Unlike the portable breath test, which is voluntary, the state's Implied Consent law requires that you submit to the evidentiary breathalyzer. In fact, refusing to take this test may be punishable by an extended driver's license suspension in addition to other penalties.
While the evidentiary breathalyzer may be regarded as more reliable than the portable test, it is certainly not without its problems. The test is supposed to measure air from deep within the lungs; however, it can be tricked by mouth alcohol that may be trapped by dental work or food stuck in the teeth. In addition, a number of medical conditions, such as diabetes and acid reflux, could impact the BAC reading.