Challenging a Breathalyzer

Challenging a Breathalyzer Test

Were your breath test results accurate?

Breath tests, taken by machines that are commonly known as "breathalyzers," are used to determine how much alcohol is in a driver's system. When drivers fail breath tests (meaning they are shown to have blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08% or higher), these individuals can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). It is important to note that while breathalyzers are commonly used, they are not 100% accurate. These devices do not directly measure the amount of alcohol in a person's blood, but rather the amount of alcohol in the individual's breath. Breath test devices use chemical reactions and scientific formulas in order to convert the amount of alcohol in a driver's breath to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) estimate.

With breath tests using indirect testing methods of BAC levels, this raises the question of how precise these tests really are. Furthermore, there are various factors that can end up altering a breath test reading, such as the driver's physiology, the environment in which the test is taken, the way the test is administered, etc.

There are many grounds on which breathalyzer test results can be challenged. When you bring your case to our criminal defense law firm, Thomas Tears, Attorney at Law, our experienced Santa Ana criminal defense attorney can perform a thorough examination of the facts of your case, which can help him determine whether there were any factors that could have led to a false breath test reading. We can also look at information related to the specific breathalyzer device that was used to test you, such as whether the device was properly maintained or whether it had a history of technical problems.

Factors Affecting the Results of Breathalyzer Tests

Here are some of the common factors that could potentially affect the outcome of a breath test:

  • Improper calibration or maintenance of the breathalyzer
  • Technical malfunctions of the device
  • Improper administration of the test by the officer (such as failing to let the machine warm up enough or failing to provide the correct instructions)
  • The driver's exposure to other alcohol-based products before the test (such as breath sprays, lip balm or cold medicine)
  • Certain gases or chemicals in the area where the test is being taken (or gases or chemicals the driver was exposed to before the test was taken)
  • The driver's physiology, such as his or her lung capacity or the presence of medical conditions that can affect how a person breathes
  • The fact that the driver vomited or burped before the test was taken

In 2009, the California Supreme Court entered a ruling that in some cases, defendants who are accused of drunk driving have grounds to challenge the validity of test results taken from their roadside breathalyzer tests, according to an Associated Press article in the San Jose Mercury News. Through this ruling, the Supreme Court acknowledged that breath test results can vary depending on the person. The article noted that studies have shown that breath-to-blood ratios can vary from person-to-person, especially when there are other factors weighing into the outcome.

Contact a skilled Santa Ana DUI defense lawyer!

Make sure you get have a strong defender on your side after you are arrested for alleged DUI. Our firm can help you fight for a positive outcome in your case. Contact ustoday and schedule a free initial consultation so you can learn more about your defense options!