If you go out with your friends on a Friday night, have couple drinks and then later drive home, police may pull you over as a possible drunk driver. Most likely, when screening you, police will have you complete a field sobriety test and take a breathalyzer test, to record your blood alcohol level. If you register .08 or above on the breathalyzer, you could spend a night in jail and face DUI charges.
What you may not realize is that your breathalyzer test, a main factor that led to your arrest, may have been inaccurate. In fact, according to a recent New York Times report, breath tests can show a 50% difference in blood alcohol levels than blood tests do.
Breath test accuracy problems
The problem is that as part of your DUI arrest you may not get a blood test – which is more accurate, but often only administered at police stations. Your breathalyzer test could be inaccurate for a number of reasons:
- Law enforcement didn’t calibrate the machine correctly.
- The police officer administering the test wasn’t properly trained how to use it.
- The breathalyzer produced an inaccurate reading because of electronic interference from a police radio, handheld police transmitters, cell phones or something else.
- A health condition skews your reading. For example, having diabetes can raise your acetone levels, producing a false positive breathalyzer test.
- The breathalyzer measures your exposure to other chemicals, such as oil-based paint, varnish, paint remover, gasoline or cleaning fluids. Having enough chemical fumes in your breath could lead to an elevated blood alcohol reading.
If you face DUI charges, a conviction can result in life-altering consequences. Not only do you face fines and higher insurance rates, but a DUI becomes part of your permanent criminal record. A DUI conviction can hinder your current or future employment. You want to seek the help of a criminal defense attorney who could evaluate how to get your DUI charges reduced or dismissed to avoid those long-term consequences.