Robert F. Rider, PLC
One Of Roanoke’s Most Experienced Defense Attorneys.
Get Legal Help Now! 540-685-0075

Can a breath test really be inaccurate?

Breathalyzer tests are one of the main ways that officers determine if people are over the legal alcohol limit. These breath tests are normally pretty accurate, but there are issues that could make them inaccurate and lead to false positives.

For example, did you know that having a higher body temperature could affect your Breathalyzer test? When your body is warmer, there is higher volatility and more alcohol may be expelled. It’s believed that differences in how the blood is composed could also impact tests. Sometimes, lower readings are achieved by taking a test before the alcohol has been fully absorbed into the blood.

In addition to these issues, you need to know that some Breathalyzers could produce false positives if they are not calibrated correctly. They can also give false positives by misreading some simple chemicals (usually methyl compounds). Higher readings may also be produced if a person has recently used alcohol-based mouthwash or has acid reflux.

There is another potential risk, too. That’s the idea that an officer may not have the right training to perform the test. Different Breathalyzer tests require varied testing steps, so missing a step or failing to do one correctly could lead to inaccurate results.

What should you do if you think your Breathalyzer test results were inaccurate?

It’s possible that they were inaccurate, but this is why most officers will give at least two tests and will wait to give you a test for around 15 minutes. This gives your body time to absorb alcohol while also allowing the officer to check that the test is reading accurately. If the test is off by .02% or more between readings, then there may be a problem with the device’s calibration. In that case, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that the device is taken out of service, so that it does not produce false positives that could lead to an arrest.

If you think that your test was given to you incorrectly, then it’s a good idea to stay quiet with police and to ask to speak with your attorney. Your attorney will go over the results to see if there could have been user error, calibration problems or other issues leading to an inaccurate test. If so, the results of the test may be inadmissible, which would minimize the risk of you ending up with a DUI charge or conviction.