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Cobb County Criminal Defense Lawyer / Blog / DUI / Breath Test Results Are Often Inaccurate

Breath Test Results Are Often Inaccurate


Many people assume that the results of breathalyzer tests conducted by police officers after a DUI stop are always correct. This, however, isn’t necessarily true. In fact, inaccurate results are alarmingly common, as there are a number of factors that can affect the accuracy of these tests.

What are Roadside Breath Tests?

 Roadside breath tests are used by law enforcement officers to calculate how much alcohol is in a person’s blood based on the amount of alcohol found in his or her breath. If someone’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) registers at .08 percent or higher, he or she can be arrested for driving under the influence. Unfortunately, breathalyzer tests aren’t as straightforward as they seem to be, but can be quite problematic. This is because breathalyzers don’t actually measure the alcohol in a person’s blood, but calculate the alcohol that has evaporated from the blood system and moved to the airway. Whether this results in an accurate measure of a person’s intoxication will depend on the driver’s:

  • Temperature;
  • Breathing technique; and
  • The rate at which his or her body absorbs alcohol.

These factors, however, aren’t the only things that can affect the results of an alcohol breath test.

Improper Administration and Maintenance

 Besides producing inaccurate results because of a particular driver’s characteristics, some breathalyzer tests are inaccurate because of improper calibration or a lack of maintenance. Failing to comply with the calibration schedule can result in errors in the readings and inaccurate measurements. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, officers are directed to conduct careful and regular maintenance. Unfortunately, many fail to do so, leading to inaccurate results and unfair DUI arrests.

Improper Administration 

Even if a breathalyzer device is properly calibrated and maintained, its results could still end up being inaccurate if the test is administered in the wrong way. For example, officers are required to wait at least 15 minutes before administering a breath test to make sure that there isn’t any residual alcohol present in the mouth. Officers who fail to abide by these time limits could risk tainting the result of the test. Similarly, the mouthpiece of the device must be properly cleaned to ensure that the results of the breath test are accurate. The good news is that proof that a test was administered improperly can be used to counter any allegations made by prosecutors and could even result in the dismissal of the DUI charges entirely.

Call Today for Help with Your DUI Charges 

A wide range of factors can affect the results of a roadside breathalyzer test. For instance, even air temperature or whether or not a person is suffering from certain medical conditions can result in elevated BAC readings that are unrelated to how much alcohol a person actually consumed. Experienced Cobb County DUI lawyer Andrew L. Schwartz, P.C. is well-versed in these kinds of problems and how they could affect the results of your breath test. If you have concerns about the results of your own roadside breath test, please call our office at 678-853-2500 and set up a meeting with Andrew L. Schwartz, P.C. today.



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