The police arrest many people for driving under the influence (DUI) after they fail breathalyzer tests by exhibiting blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of 0.08% or more. However, many circumstances can affect breathalyzer readings, which calls into question the authenticity of these tests.
What Can Affect a Breathalyzer Test?
Police officers commonly use breath tests when determining drivers’ levels of “intoxication,” but the technology is by no means flawless. Several alternative factors, other than a person’s level of intoxication, could explain why someone fails a breathalyzer test.
Residual Mouth Alcohol
Residual mouth alcohol remains in a person's mouth not only after drinking alcohol but also after using mouthwash or breath sprays that contain alcohol. Breathalyzers may mistake the residual alcohol in the mouth as alcohol in the lungs, which could result in an inaccurate reading.
For this reason, police officers are required to perform tests after 15 to 20 minutes have passed to ensure that residual mouth alcohol does not influence a test result. When police fail to provide the waiting period, then a person could produce a false positive, which may be inadmissible in court.
However, even after waiting for 15 minutes, something as simple as burping could increase residual mouth alcohol, which can impact breath tests.
Diabetes and gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, are two medical conditions that can negatively impact breath test results. People with diabetes have higher acetone levels, which are picked up by breathalyzers, and people with GERD may have undigested alcohol in the stomach that can influence test results.
Specific jobs expose people to high levels of acetone while working, and acetone can impact breath test results. Most breathalyzers cannot differentiate between acetone and ethyl alcohol, which makes nail salon employees and woodworkers at risk of blowing false positives.
Do you believe you failed a DUI breathalyzer test because of an external factor? Are you looking for a strong defense for your case? Get award-winning representation from Hager & Schwartz!
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