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What is problem with alcohol breath test devices?

If you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer on suspicion of drinking and driving, you may be asked to submit to a breath test. Roadside breath test devices are used by officers to determine whether you are driving with a blood alcohol content level that is over the legal limit. The problem lies in the fact that these devices do not always give reliable and accurate results. Some breath test devices may give readings that could falsely indicate you have a BAC that is over the legal limit, leading to an erroneous DUI charge.

Breath test devices are designed to measure the amount of alcohol contained in a breath sample. It then converts that amount to a blood alcohol content level. Research found that the amount of alcohol found in a breath test can be inflated by up to 15 percent from the actual amount of alcohol found in a person’s blood. This may partly be due to the fact that there are other factors that go into a breath test reading. For example, a study conducted by the State University of New York at Potsdam found that substances, such as environmental pollution, cigarette smoke, gasoline fumes and even residual food, blood and drink left in a person’s mouth can affect the breath test reading.

Other factors, including the temperature and humidity of the air, whether the breath test device has been accurately calibrated or if the law enforcement officer is using the device correctly, may also pay a part in the overall reading.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

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