07 Sep Problems with Breathalyzer Tests
How Even Breathalyzer Tests Can Get it Wrong
Breathalyzer tests are a staple of modern policing. It is standard practice for most officers to administer breathalyzer tests when they pull over a driver and have probable cause to believe the driver is under the influence of alcohol. However, there are several issues with breathalyzer tests that can lead to the test giving inaccurate results. It is important to know that if you have a positive DUI breath test that there may be some issues that could invalidate that result.
Because of the way that the machines work, it can be biased against people with certain builds or body types. For the machine to work it requires a minimum amount of air be blown into it. If you are unable to submit a sufficient sample, the machine may calculate an incorrect result, or it may not be able to give a result at all.
The temperature of your breath can also affect the accuracy of the breathalyzer test. If your breath temperature is higher than average, the result can read higher due to the way the result is calculated. Some machines can correct for this, however. It is also important to note that breath temperature is not the same as internal body temperature.
Breathalyzer machines can also malfunction. Like any piece of equipment, they can stop working. If breathalyzer equipment is not maintained correctly it can start to give inaccurate readings. If the police do not follow a strict maintenance regimen than the result is not one that can be trusted. There can also be malfunctions caused by underlying problems with the code that controls the devices. It is important that a defense attorney reviews the maintenance records for any machine to make sure the equipment was maintained and working properly.
Chemicals that might be on your clothes or skin have also been found to lead to a false positive. For instance, if you have been using paint thinner, or have gasoline on your hands these highly volatile fumes can enter the machine and trigger a positive alcohol reading.
Some medications or even something as common place as mouthwash can increase the level of alcohol in your mouth. This can lead to a falsely high breathalyzer reading. This is why the officer giving the test is required to observe the person for at least 15 minutes prior to giving the breath test to make sure they haven’t put anything in their mouth and to allow time to for any substances in the mouth to clear away.
Remember, if you have a positive breathalyzer test result it is not an open and shut case. You should have a conversation with your attorney about your situation and review all the facts and circumstances surrounding the breath test to determine the best course of action.
Indianapolis Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney
If you have been accused of driving while intoxicated, contact Chambers Law Office to discuss your case. Julie Chambers is a former deputy prosecuting attorney and represents clients charged with OVWI in Indianapolis and throughout central Indiana.