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How accurate are breathalyzer tests?

On Behalf of | Jul 30, 2020 | Uncategorized |

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:

  1. Law enforcement didn’t calibrate the machine correctly.
  2. The police officer administering the test wasn’t properly trained how to use it.
  3. The breathalyzer produced an inaccurate reading because of electronic interference from a police radio, handheld police transmitters, cell phones or something else.
  4. A health condition skews your reading. For example, having diabetes can raise your acetone levels, producing a false positive breathalyzer test.
  5. 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.


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