3 factors that can alter breath test results

There are certain factors that can affect the accuracy of breath test devices. In some cases, these details may lead to a wrongful DUI charge.

For years, breath test devices have been used by law enforcement officers as tools to calculate whether motorists are driving drunk. Unlike blood tests that must be conducted in a clean and sanitary environment, breath tests are easy for officers to use during roadside traffic stops. Research shows, however, that several factors can manipulate the results of these tests. These factors may render the results inaccurate and could lead to the conclusion that a driver is intoxicated when in all actuality, he or she is not. According to the State University of New York at Potsdam, three of the most common factors that contribute to false breath test readings include the following:

1. Substances in the air

In order to increase accuracy and lower the rate of erroneous blood alcohol content readings, breath test machines should be calibrated regularly to account for the relative humidity and temperature of the air. In addition, heavy concentrations of dirt and other pollutants in the air can affect the results.

2. Inhalation of fumes

In one study, a person was asked to submit to a breath test after painting a wall with a gallon of paint and applying a pint of contact cement to plywood. The subject had not had anything to drink beforehand. Approximately 20 minutes after the task was completed, a breath test indicated that the subject's BAC level was 0.12 percent. A blood test, on the other hand, showed that there was no alcohol in the subject's system. Since the legal limit is 0.08 percent in Pennsylvania, people in this situation could have been arrested for drunk driving if they had been pulled over after painting.

3. Regular calibration and proper use

Failure to calibrate breath test devices on a regular basis can lead to inaccurate BAC readings. Furthermore, officers must follow certain procedures when conducting a breath test, according to Pennsylvania code. The officer must wait with and observe the driver for at least 20 minutes before administering the test to ensure he or she has not smoked, ate, drank or vomited, as all of these things can affect breath test results. Pennsylvania guidelines also require officers to administer two breath tests.

Obtaining legal assistance

It can be scary going through the legal process without legal representation. Since a DUI conviction can have a major impact on many areas of your life, it may be comforting to know that you have a knowledgeable attorney on your side. A criminal lawyer in Colmar can look at the specific circumstances surrounding your DUI charges and may be able to help formulate a strong defense for your case.