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Why would a breath test be wrong?

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2022 | Criminal Defense

One of the main tactics that police use to determine if someone is under the influence is simply to give them a breath test. This doesn’t work for drug impairment, of course, but it can work for alcohol impairment. The legal limit is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, and anyone whose breath test reveals a higher concentration than that can be arrested for driving under the influence.

As such, people often assume that breath tests can’t be wrong and that they are very accurate and dependable. You may be surprised to find that this is not always the case. They certainly can be wrong and they are not nearly as accurate as some people believe. Here are a few reasons why.

The breath test may not have been calibrated

One important thing that the police have to do is to calibrate the breath test in accordance with the schedule that is in place. This ensures that it is functioning properly. If they skip this or don’t calibrate the device for too long, that puts the entire reading into question.

The subject may have burped

Interestingly, officers who give out these tests are supposed to make sure that you don’t burp or do anything else that could increase the alcohol content in your mouth. If you do, this could artificially elevate the levels so that you get a false reading that is too high. The same thing is sometimes true with those who use mouthwash before taking a breath test.

The officer may not have been trained

Drivers also usually assume that the officer giving the breath test knows what they’re doing and has been properly trained. But this isn’t always the case, either. Some officers may have limited training, they may never have used the device in question before or they could just make mistakes in the moment. When the officer does make a mistake, that means that you can’t necessarily trust the reading that he or she gets.

If you’re facing drunk driving allegations, it’s important to know exactly what legal steps to take.