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Attorneys Stephen G. Fabian Jr. and Brian P. Young

How accurate are Breathalyzer tests?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2022 | DUI - Drunk Driving |

Any time someone is stopped for driving oddly, there is a chance that an officer could ask them to take a Breathalyzer test. This kind of test is usually pretty accurate, but there are times when it can be inaccurate and produce a false positive result.

If you are stopped, tested and have a .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), you could be arrested for a DUI. Even below this limit, there is a chance that you could be arrested for driving recklessly or while impaired.

You do have a right to a defense, though, and part of that defense can be questioning the validity of the Breathalyzer test.

Common causes of false positive results on Breathalyzers

There are several common reasons for Breathalyzers to produce inaccurate results (including false positives). These reasons could include the following:

  1. Not being calibrated correctly. If the machinery isn’t calibrated well, it may produce high results despite a driver not being impaired or not being as highly impaired as the results suggest
  2. Exposure to alcohol-based mouthwashes. If you’ve recently brushed your teeth and used mouthwash, the Breathalyzer test may not be accurate
  3. Burping during a test. If you burp during a Breathalyzer test, there is a chance that your BAC could come back higher than it is as alcohol is expelled through your breath
  4. Inaccurate testing. Officers must be trained to give the test correctly. If the officer doesn’t give you the test correctly, the results could be inaccurate
  5. Diabetes or other medical conditions. Sometimes, these conditions produce ketones, for example, which can result in false positive results

These are just a few of many reasons why the results of a Breathalyzer test could be wrong. It is smart for you to consider these possibilities and to develop a defense based on your circumstances.

For example, if you know you burped during the test, the results could be inaccurate. Pointing this out could help you get the results removed as evidence, helping you boost the likelihood of having the case against you dropped. The right defense for you will depend on your situation.