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Factors that impact the accuracy of a breath test

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2016 | Drunk Driving

Anyone who has ever been pulled over knows the feeling. Once those blue lights appear in your review window, your pulse starts to quicken and your nerves go through the roof. Your stress level will likely rise even higher if the law enforcement official who pulls you over thinks you have been drinking and requests that you take a breath test, which is intended to determine your blood-alcohol level and assess whether you can safely operate your vehicle. Contrary to popular belief, however, breath tests are not foolproof.

There are a number of factors that can lead breath tests to produce inaccurate results, and given the high stakes that surround a drunk driving conviction, it is important to recognize what these factors are. Your breath test may produce inaccurate results because of:

A poorly calibrated or defective device

Breath tests are touchy, and the person administering it must be certified and adequately trained to do so. Furthermore, the device must be calibrated and tested for accuracy at regular intervals, and the administrator must take two back-to-back readings that produce the same or extremely similar results. Finally, the device itself must come from an existing list of pre-approved devices. If any one of these rules is broken, your breath test results may be deemed invalid.

A health condition, such as diabetes

Certain health conditions, among them diabetes, have the capacity to impact your breath test and produce a high reading even if you have not, in fact, consumed alcohol. Many of the symptoms of a diabetic attack also mirror those of drunkenness, which can lead a law enforcement official to believe you are intoxicated and make you submit to a breath test as a result.

Burping or vomiting

If you were to burp or vomit just before you take a breath test, you may find that the device produces a higher reading than is accurate. This is common knowledge among authorities, which is why they are trained to keep a watchful eye on you prior to your breath test to make sure nothing like this occurs. If you do vomit or belch, the law enforcement official must generally wait about 20 minutes before trying again to administer the test.

If you are charged and ultimately convicted of drunk driving, the repercussions are often swift and considerable. Just how severe they prove to be depends on a number of factors, such as how high your blood-alcohol level was and whether you have been convicted of the same offense before. If you are facing a drunk driving charge, you may find it useful to speak with an attorney.