If you’re stopped for suspicion of drunk driving, the officer will ask you some basic identifying questions and then may proceed to conduct some field sobriety tests. There is a high chance they will have you blow into a breathalyzer to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Unfortunately, breathalyzers and other alcohol breath testing machines are small, highly unpredictable technological devices. When the machine confirms that your BAC is above the legal limit, there are several factors that prevent the results from being completely accurate.
You should be aware of what factors affect the breathalyzer’s accuracy if you want to avoid suffering from the serious consequences that come from an OWI conviction.
The problems with breathalyzers
These machines face consistent miscalibrations by either the police precincts or the companies that manufacture the devices. Despite being used by police officers for decades, both industry experts and law officials have criticized the over reliance on this device and the wrongful arrests they have led to.
In 2019, judges in Massachusetts and New Jersey threw out over 30,000 breathalyzer tests, citing human error and negligent government oversight.
The issues don’t stop at human error, a lack of oversight and miscalibrations. Whenever used, the officer should administer the test at least twice to support accurate readings. Other chemicals on one’s breath, like those from ketosis in diabetic individuals, particular mouthwash or breath mint products and dental medications can lead to an unusually high reading. External elements like paint fumes, smoke, and burnt adhesives or plastic can also distort breathalyzer results.
Some drivers have suffered the consequences of inaccurate breathalyzer results and a subsequent DUI conviction. If you took a breath test that seemed irrationally high, consider seeking representation to challenge the test results.