• North Carolina DWI Law | The Portable Breathalyzer Test: AlcoSensor
  • April 3, 2012
  • Law Firm: Matheson Law Office PLLC - Raleigh Office
  • The AlcoSensor is the handheld device used by Police Officers when investigating a Driver for suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated. Before the speaking with a DWI Attorney Durham or DWI Lawyer Durham, it is helpful to understand the process of a DWI Stop. During the stop, a breath sample is taken, normally from the roadside to assist the Officer during the DWI stop. The Breathalyzer machine used by all Law Enforcement Offices is the AlcoSensor. This machine is used in their attempt to detect an impairing substance for someone they suspect of Driving While Intoxicated.

    This breath machine is used in conjunction with Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, specifically: the Walk and Turn Test, the One-Legged Stand Test, as well as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test. The AlcoSensor is given either during theses tests, before these tests, or most often these tests have been completed.

    The administration of this tests comes with some standardized guidelines that must be adhered to before the machines results may be admissible. First, the Police Officer is to determine that there are no foreign objects in the Driver's mouth, this includes: food, drink, gum or tobacco products. The Police Officer is to ask the Driver if they have had a drink recently, if so, the Police Officer is to wait fifteen minutes before the administration of this test. Once the officer is certain that they are administering the AlcoSensor in accordance to it's guidelines, they should then ask the Driver to blow into the Machine. During the testing phase of the use of the AlcoSensor, the subject will have to blow hard into the device. A reading will not show up if the Driver attempts to blow softly, or is unable to blow hard. The Driver will also have to blow for a sustained amount of time; normally 5-8 seconds. The Police Officer should request the Driver to take a deep breath before blowing into the AlcoSensor machine to ensure a quality sample.

    When using the AlcoSensor in North Carolina, the Police Officer is suppose to test the subject two times. During the administration of this test, the officer must wait more than five minutes after the first test before administering the second test.

    It should be noted that, during trials for those arrested in North Carolina for Driving While Intoxicated, the actual numerical value the machine has provided the Police Officer is not admissible in court as evidence. The Police Officer can only testify to the presence of alcohol by indicating a "positive" reading on the AlcoSensor, as oppose to a "negative" result, which would indicate no alcohol registered on the AlocSensor.

    The participation by the Driver to the use of the AlcoSensor in North Carolina is completely voluntary. By providing a breath sample to the Police Officer, the Driver is providing evidence not only to the Police Officer, but also to the Prosecution should the Driver be arrested for Driving While Intoxicated. There are no consequences for refusing to blow into this hand held device. This is different the the Intoximeter, which is the breath-testing machine used after arrest; which carries with it consequences should the Driver refuse to provide a breath sample; namely that revocation of the Driver's license immediately for a month, and the for a year thereafter. Additionally, the Driver will not be permitted to petition the court for a limited driving privilege for the first six months of the one year suspension.

    For legal advice regarding your particular case, always consult a local Driving While Intoxicated Attorney.

    I am a North Carolina Criminal Attorney practicing in Raleigh, Durham and the greater Triangle area. In addition to North Carolina Criminal Defense, I also handle North Carolina traffic citations with a focus on North Carolina DWI charges.

    Disclaimer - Information and advice offered in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is specific to North Carolina law. The viewing, receipt and/or exchange of information from this article does not constitute an Attorney-Client Relationship. For assistance regarding your particular legal question speak with an Attorney practicing in the field from which your questions derives.