Can A Breathalyzer Be Wrong?

Law Blog

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is extremely dangerous. Alcohol impairs your ability to think clearly and quickly react to any hazards in the road.

Being arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence can have a negative impact on your life. A DUI arrest could affect your ability to gain employment, your ability to legally operate a vehicle, and your insurance rates over time.

Officers have a number of tools at their disposal when it comes to determining whether a driver has consumed too much alcohol. One of the more popular tools is a breathalyzer. Failing a breathalyzer test will result in an arrest, but it is possible for a breathalyzer to be wrong.

Your defense attorney can present the following arguments in court to help you prove that an inaccurate breathalyzer should be thrown out. This could result in the dismissal of your DUI charges, or a reduction in the charges brought against you.

Improper Calibration

A breathalyzer must be calibrated properly in order to generate an accurate reading. A single malfunction has the potential to skew the results of the breathalyzer test.

Law enforcement officers are required to calibrate their breathalyzers regularly and to document the calibration process each time it occurs.

Your attorney can subpoena the calibration records when building a defense against your DUI charges. If these records show that the breathalyzer used during your traffic stop was not calibrated properly, the results of the breathalyzer test must be thrown out of court.

Improper Administration

In addition to ensuring that a breathalyzer is calibrated properly, a law enforcement officer must administer the breathalyzer test correctly for the device to return an accurate reading.

A very strict protocol must be followed. Any deviation from this protocol could bring the validity of the breathalyzer test into question.

Your attorney will likely ask you to write down everything you remember about the traffic stop that resulted in your DUI arrest. Any body camera or dash camera footage available of the arrest will also be subpoenaed by your attorney.

Law enforcement officials are human and they do make mistakes, so it's important to determine if your breathalyzer test was administered properly when reviewing your DUI case.

Preexisting Health Condition

Many people are surprised to find that there are some health conditions which could affect the results of a breathalyzer test. Certain gastrointestinal problems could skew test results, for example.

Conditions like acid reflux, GERD, and heartburn are characterized by a regurgitation of gases from the stomach. When these gases mix with the air in the lungs, a breathalyzer may register a reading that is much higher than the accurate alcohol level at the time of the test administration.

A good criminal defense attorney can use your medical history to help disprove the results of a breathalyzer test in court.


The foods that you consume have the potential to affect the results of a breathalyzer test. Foods that are classified as starchy are especially to blame for throwing off the accuracy of a breathalyzer.

Whenever starchy food particles get stuck in your teeth, bacteria in your mouth begin to digest them. As they digest, the bacteria create an alcohol-based waste product. Mouth alcohol levels aren't very high, but they can easily impact a breathalyzer test because the device is placed in the mouth during testing.

Low-carb diets can also create problems for a breathalyzer. Consuming low levels of carbohydrates causes ketone levels in the body to increase. High ketone levels can create a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

Your attorney can use your diet as a defense if the foods you consume regularly might interfere with the results of a breathalyzer test.

Contact a criminal defense attorney to learn more.


14 April 2021

Knowing Your Legal Rights Can Help You Greatly in Life

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