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How accurate are breathalyzer results?

A DUI arrest can feel like the end of the world. You thought you were okay to get behind the wheel, and then suddenly, you were being pulled over by the police. You told the officer you just had two drinks, but when you took a breathalyzer test, your BAC came back over the legal limit.

You cannot believe the mess you have gotten into. A criminal record could really hurt your future, but you feel helpless. Before you give up, know that you have the right to a defense against these charges. An arrest for a DUI is not the same as a conviction.

BAC tests are the generally accepted standard in DUI cases. However, breathalyzers are not without flaws. These tests provide an estimate of how much alcohol is in your blood, and a portable breathalyzer has a margin of error of about 15 percent. Almost one-quarter of drivers may receive inaccurate breathalyzer results. There are several reasons a breathalyzer test may be questioned.

Electrical interference

Police radios and even smartphones can interfere with signals from breathalyzer machines.

Other substances can set off a breathalyzer

Different substances can set off a breath test. Using paint, paint thinner, vinegar or other types of cleaning products can cause a false positive. People who are dieting or have diabetes also have higher levels of acetone in their systems. Acetone may register as alcohol on a breathalyzer test.

Differences in your body

People with warmer body temperatures may receive a higher BAC reading. Other differences in body chemistry may also change your breathalyzer output.

The breathalyzer was not working correctly

Breathalyzers must be calibrated on a regular basis and maintained per the instructions. If this is not done, a breath test may provide inaccurate results. An attorney may be able to get the test thrown out of a DUI case.

Test not administered properly

An officer must be certified to use a breathalyzer machine. The officer must also take two breath samples to make sure the readings are accurate. If an officer failed to conduct your tests properly, the breathalyzer results may not be admissible.

Breathalyzers are not always accurate. A failed test does not necessarily mean you are guilty of drunk driving. An experienced DUI attorney may prevent the prosecutors from using this evidence against you.