How accurate are breath tests for alcohol?

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2022 | Drunk Driving Defense

Police officers use three primary means of establishing that someone has been driving while drunk. First, they observe the driver in traffic and then ask them questions when they conduct a traffic stop. Their observations about your driving habits or your speech might give them a reason to suspect alcohol.

The second involves field sobriety tests that look at everything from involuntary muscle spasms in your eyes to your ability to balance. Finally, if those test results give a police officer probable cause, they can ask for the driver to perform a chemical breath test.

You may have agreed to do the test to exonerate yourself, but then the tests showed that you were over the legal limit. Could the test have been wrong?

Chemical breath tests fail all the time

Many people think of chemical evidence, like breath test results, as almost infallible. Chemical and scientific evidence has become the gold standard in many courtrooms. However, breath test results don’t always meet the standard for evidence in criminal proceedings.

Many issues can affect the accuracy of the test. The police department needs to calibrate it and perform routine maintenance frequently. They need to make sure that the software is up-to-date and that the officer using the test has the proper training.

Police officers also need to consider that there may be secondary explanations for a failed test, such as medical issues. Even when someone explains that they failed the test because they follow a paleo diet and had nothing to drink, the police officer might still arrest them.

For those who fail a chemical breath test while they were under the limit, challenging the accuracy of the test results could play an important role in their defense strategy. Considering all your options for a drunk driving defense could help you avoid jail and the loss of your license.


FindLaw Network