Failing a Breathalyzer Test Doesn’t Mean You’ve Blown It
8 Dec 2014

Failing a Breathalyzer Test Doesn’t Mean You’ve Blown It

When you apply for and receive a Georgia driver’s license, you’ve given your “implied consent” to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test if an officer reasonably suspects that you were driving under the influence. You can refuse to take the test and essentially “revoke” that consent (with serious consequences including a mandatory license suspension), but law enforcement still may be able to get the sample it’s looking for through what’s known as “No Refusal” DUI testing.

One test often used by Georgia law enforcement is a breath test, using a Breathalyzer or similar device to determine your blood alcohol content if you are pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. If the test registers above the legal limit, you will likely be charged with DUI and will no doubt wonder what you can do when faced with such damning evidence.

The reality is that these devices are extremely sensitive, and frequently malfunction. If you are arrested and charged with DUI 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 Georgia 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.

Alan Welch: Your Brunswick and Southeast Georgia DUI Defense Lawyer

If you’re facing a DUI charge, give me a call today at (912) 265-9811 for a free consultation. Together, we’ll work to preserve your driving privileges and develop the best defense strategy for your particular case that will allow you to move forward with your life. I look forward to speaking with you.

This article has been prepared by J. Alan Welch Law for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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