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Can Breathalyzers be inaccurate?

When you're stopped for reckless driving and asked to take a Breathalyzer test, you likely already know that the officer believes you're driving drunk. A Breathalyzer has the potential to show if you're intoxicated and the level of intoxication you've reached.

This information is submitted to the court if the officer determines that you're driving while intoxicated. It's used as evidence against you, helping the prosecution get a conviction.

Fortunately, you have the ability to fight the results of a Breathalyzer test. Breathalyzers can be inaccurate, especially if they have not been calibrated properly. Additionally, the Breathalyzer used for your test must be one approved for use by the police for legal testing purposes.

The person who administers your test must be trained in performing Breathalyzer tests. It must be given in accordance to that training as well. For example, if you stop blowing out halfway through the test, the test results are null. You'd have to take the test again. The officer should also make you take the test again if you burp during the test. This can make the test come back with a higher BAC reading than if you did not burp. Alcohol is released as a gas when you burp, making the reading incorrect.

You should have been given at least two breath tests by the officer. Each test must match or be within 0.02 of each other to be accurate. If you can show that two tests given back-to-back were extremely different, the court may determine that the Breathalyzer was not calibrated properly. Your attorney can help you work on a defense including information about how the test was given and the readings that resulted.

Source: FindLaw, "Breathalyzer Calibration," accessed March 10, 2017

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