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Why might a breath test be wrong?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2023 | Drunk Driving Defense

Police officers use breath tests to check someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Some officers carry portable tests but most breath tests are carried out at the police station. Officers often use a device known as a Breathalyzer.

Don’t assume that a breath test is infallible. Just because you fail a test doesn’t mean that you are definitely going to be convicted on drunk driving charges. You may be arrested, but that’s much different than a conviction. After all, breath tests can be wrong.

Human error

For example, a test could be wrong simply because the police officer makes a mistake. Errors happen. Maybe the officer never got the right training or maybe they were just in a hurry. If they did something incorrectly, then that calls the results of a test into question.

Lack of calibration

Similarly, a breath test has to be calibrated every so often. The police have to check the device over and do proper maintenance to ensure that it’s working correctly. What if a breath test device that was used on you had been neglected? What if the police officers never calibrated it?

Software errors or bugs

Like many modern devices, a breath test uses some form of software to calculate and display results. What if there is a bug or a glitch? If the software functions incorrectly, you can get inaccurate results, even if the rest of the test is working.

Outside factors

Finally, there are outside factors that can influence the results of a test. Maybe you recently used mouthwash, for instance. This can cause you to fail a breath test, even if you haven’t been drinking, because there’s alcohol in the mouthwash. It stays in your mouth and can throw off a test with highly elevated readings. You’ll also want to be wary about inaccurate results if your test was administrated in a room that wasn’t properly ventilated.

What options do you have?

Even if you failed a breath test, you may not believe you were actually impaired when you were driving. Take the time to carefully look into all of the criminal defense options at your disposal before deciding to plead guilty or to fight the charges you’re facing.

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