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Is Breathalyzer Testing Accurate?

When you’ve been pulled over and had a breathalyzer test administered to you, and then been found to be over the legal limit, it can seem like there must be something wrong with the breathalyzer device. After all, you can hold your liquor, you weren’t driving poorly at all, and you’re not even sure why you were pulled over in the first place. Surely the breathalyzer must be incorrect, right? Right; there’s no way it could be that accurate, down to the second decimal point. If there is a malfunction, it could keep you from suffering the terrible consequences of a DUI on your record.

The Most Popular BAC Test

There are several different popular methods of BAC testing used in the U.S., with the blood test being considered the most accurate; certainly, if officers could administer this test quickly and efficiently in the field, this is what you would probably most often see.  Yet this isn’t the case, and so they are forced to use a slightly more unreliable test: the breathalyzer, or “preliminary breath tester.”  These testers are very light, they are easy to transport, and they are even easier to administer to citizens like yourself.

The honest truth is that while these are actually fairly accurate devices, they are not entirely accurate, and a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney can often challenge breath testing results as evidence of drunk driving.

How Things Go Wrong

Any number of things can affect breathalyzer testing, such as…

  1. Human Error: While these are very simple devices, they still require some finesse, and can occasionally be mishandled,  misused or calibrated incorrectly.
  2. Substances: If there is something in your mouth that may provide alcohol vapor or some other foreign substance, it can interfere with your breathalyzer results.
  3. Physical Conditions you May Have:  Physical conditions such as GERD can cause an inaccurate Breathalyzer result.

With your freedom and your future on the line, every decision can make or break and must be well thought out.  If you have been charged with DUI/DWI it is always a good idea to speak with a knowledgeable DUI attorney about challenging the breath testing results in your case.