When police stop suspected drunk drivers, they may have drivers take various tests to measure their intoxication, including field sobriety tests as well as breathalyzer readings. If drivers blow into the breathalyzer machine and it shows a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, it is very possible that the motorist could face DUI charges in California.
Many drivers who fail breathalyzer tests assume these tests are accurate, so they don’t contest their DUI charges. However, breathalyzer tests are not foolproof. In fact, in 2019, The New York Times reported that breathalyzer machines frequently produce faulty results – including occasionally measuring a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) to be 40% higher than it actually is. So, a driver who registers a .10 BAC level may really have a .06 BAC, below the legal limit.
Why breathalyzer tests can be inaccurate
Breathalyzer tests can produce faulty results for many reasons. Some of these include the following:
- Police didn’t administer the breathalyzer test properly.
- Police haven’t maintained and cleaned the breathalyzer machine well.
- Police haven’t calibrated the breathalyzer machine correctly.
- The breathalyzer machine has a software problem.
Breathalyzer tests also can show inaccurate results when drivers have certain medical conditions, such as acid reflux or diabetes, which can affect the level of alcohol detected in their breath. Sometimes, drivers with asthma can show high BAC levels because they recently used an albuterol inhaler because albueterol contains ethanol alcohol.
Contesting breathalyzer results
If you are facing DUI charges because of a breathalyzer test, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can review the evidence in your case to see if your breathalyzer test results were unreliable. You may have your DUI charges reduced or dismissed in some circumstances.