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Drivers in Virginia who are stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence are likely aware of the possibility of submitting to a breath test to determine their blood alcohol content level. The amount of alcohol in the blood will often be the difference between being arrested or not. What drivers might not know is that there is certain criterion for the test to be valid so it can be used as evidence in a legal case. This hinges, in part, as to whether the person administering the test is certified to do so and the equipment is working correctly and adherent to state law.

In order for the breath test to be considered valid, the test must be performed by a person who has a valid license allowing that he or she conducts the test. The equipment must also be in accordance with methods that are approved by state. There will be a training program for people who will give the tests. Once the training has been completed, the person will be licensed to analyze breath tests. In this license, the particular equipment that the person is certified in will be identified.

The person who conducts the breath test will provide a certificate that indicates that the test was given based on the proper specifications. It will also have the name of the person who is accused of the act of driving under the influence; that before the test was given the person was told of the right to observe the breath test process and see the reading on the equipment, the date and time the sample was given, the blood alcohol content and the name of the examiner.

If these rules are followed, then the test will be admissible in any court in a criminal or civil case. People who are placed under arrest for DWI after being given a field sobriety test need to know their rights. Considering the penalties that can accompany a conviction on driving under the influence of alcohol including being fined, losing driving privileges and even jail, it is imperative to formulate a strong defense. If evidence, such as a breath test, was not properly collected, a defendant could seek to have this evidence suppressed. This could help them reduce or dismiss the charges against them.

Source: law.lis.virginia.gov, "18.2-268.9. Assurance of breath-test validity; use of breath-test results as evidence.," accessed on May 23, 2016

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