Law enforcement officers have many tools available to them when they suspect a driver of operating a vehicle under the influence. Depending on numerous factors, the officer can perform a chemical test, a breath test or a field sobriety test. After a positive result, a driver might fear the worst – license suspension, fines or even jail time. Fortunately, while breath test results might seem like an insurmountable challenge, it is possible to build a strong defense that questions the validity and reliability of those results.
What can influence breath test results?
As alcohol is absorbed into the blood it is carried around the body and, ultimately, exhaled. A breath alcohol test will measure how much alcohol is in the exhalation. Unfortunately, several questions must be asked in an effort to understand the trustworthiness of the result, including:
- Was the machine correctly calibrated?
- Was the machine correctly cleaned and stored between uses?
- Is the machine battery-operated? When were the batteries last changed?
- Was the officer trained on the machine’s correct usage?
- If the machine is electronic, has the software been recently updated?
- Were there any environmental factors that could influence the machine’s results?
- Did the driver ingest anything that could ultimately give a false positive?
Whether the breath test is manual or electronic, a variety of errors can lead to a false result. Additionally, weight, gender, the amount of food being digested and how fast a drink was consumed can all impact an accurate result.
An increased blood alcohol content (BAC) can lead to delayed reaction times, perceptive challenges and difficulty processing information. However, the breath test and other chemical tests (blood, urine, saliva) are not perfect measures of BAC. Before simply accepting the fact that he or she was driving under the influence, it is wise to discuss the situation with a skilled DUI defense attorney.