Problems With Breathalyzer Accuracy Can Lead to Results Being Thrown Out
Many machines we encounter in our daily lives are precise, reliable, and predictable. The breathalyzers and other breath-testing devices used by Indiana law enforcement to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) of drivers suspected of driving while intoxicated are not those kind of machines.
The breathalyzer machines used by the police are extremely sensitive, and frequently malfunction. If you are arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVWI) based in whole or in part on the results of a breathalyzer test, the unreliability of those machines, the inconsistent ways they are used, and the unique physical conditions of the individuals being tested mean that there a many ways to challenge the results. An experienced Indiana drunk driving lawyer will know exactly how to attack the reliability of breathalyzer test results based on any number of problems.
Three of the most common problems with the accuracy of breathalyzers, and reasons why test results may be excluded from evidence, include:
- Improper cleaning or calibration. On average, unless the breathalyzer machine was recently cleaned and calibrated prior to your test, it can be incorrect by as much as .03 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of your breath. Additionally, the machine will give false readings if not adjusted or recalibrated to account for ambient or surrounding air temperatures. With a low BAC reading, this could mean the difference between guilt and innocence.
- “Mouth Alcohol.” Mouth alcohol is present if someone burps or belches, and brings up some air from their stomach. Acid reflux can also wildly distort the test results. Air from the stomach has a great deal more alcohol in it than deep lung air, and can throw off the results dramatically. A number of other contaminants can add to the level of mouth alcohol, including smokeless tobacco, asthma inhalers, cough syrup and mouthwashes, or blood in the mouth from gum disease or gingivitis.
- Breathing Patterns. Breathing patterns may affect the breath alcohol reading. Holding your breath can significantly increase the readout number. Conversely, hyperventilating or taking deep breaths can reduce your breath alcohol concentrations.
Razumich Law: Indianapolis DUI Attorney
The penalties for drunk driving in Indiana can be numerous and severe. If you are convicted of this type of offense, you may lose your driving privileges for up to two years. If you have multiple drunk driving convictions, you may be required to serve at least twenty days in the county jail, face felony charges, and can even lose your driving privileges for life.
If you have been charged with drunk driving, I can help. There are many things that a good attorney can do to help a person charged with a drunk driving offense, and I will put my experience to work on your behalf. I will examine all of the issues relevant to your case, and help you determine the best course for your defense. Don’t face the ordeal of a drunk driving arrest on your own. Call me at 317-983-5333 for a free consultation.
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