The Legitimacy of the DUI Breathalyzer Scale

Jul 14, 2017 — by James E. Novak Attorney PLLC
Tags: Dui Criminal Law

DUI Breathalyzer ScaleIt is widely assumed that a DUI breathalyzer scale is infallible, however, it is not. A breathalyzer does not measure exactly a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) - a blood sample would be required to do that - but instead, it provides an estimate by measuring amounts of alcohol in the breath.

From testing errors to the use of mouthwash, there are many reasons for DUI breath test false positives and elevated readings. Because a DUI conviction results in life-altering consequences, it is imperative to have quality legal representation. DUI attorney James Novak in Phoenix, AZ has an outstanding track record in successfully omitting inaccurate DUI breath test results to spare innocent clients of harsh penalties they do not deserve to face.

What Causes Inaccurate BAC Readings?

There are a myriad of factors that can cause false positive and high BAC readings. For one, low-carbohydrate diets have been known to trigger breathalyzers. When you limit the amount of carbohydrates your body intakes, the body produces “ketones” which are similar in composition to isopropyl alcohol. Many breathalyzers fail to reliably distinguish between ketones and ethyl alcohol, leading to false positives and inaccurately high readings. What are some other recurring causes?

  • Residual Alcohol: When traces of alcohol are trapped in the mouth, inaccurate BAC readings can result. Residual alcohol can be absorbed in food that is stuck in your teeth. If you have just taken a sip of alcohol, you may have a higher reading than is accurate. For these reasons, it is recommended that officers wait for a period of time before conducting a test. Otherwise, the legitimacy of the results could be thrown into question.
  • Dental Hygiene: On a related note, dental hygiene plays a role in false positives or high readings, and not exclusively in the way you might think. While it may come as a shock to some, good oral hygiene can actually contribute to a DUI arrest because mouthwash and other breath fresheners commonly contain ethanol.
  • Uncalibrated Breath Analyzer: Perhaps the most frequent challenge put forth by DUI attorneys has to do with the working condition of the breathalyzer at the time of the test. The equipment must have been calibrated within a specific timeframe and must be regularly maintained. Since many makes and models exist, manufacturer guidelines must be followed precisely. Otherwise, results may be inadmissible.
  • Acid Reflux: People with acid reflux are more prone than those without to false positives or elevated readings. Officers should constantly observe the suspect to monitor for common signs of acid reflux, including vomiting, belching, or hiccupping. When this happens, acids containing alcohol can make their way up through the esophagus and into the mouth. If any of these symptoms occur, there should be a wait period of at least 20 minutes before testing.

Why You Need an Expert DUI Attorney

With the right DUI attorney, an inaccurate breath test can be successfully challenged. If you have been charged with DUI, contact attorney James Novak to schedule a free consultation. He will be happy to review your case and devise an effective strategy for your defense. To learn more, visit us online or call (480) 413-1499 today.

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