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Why your breath alcohol test reading may not be accurate

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2019 | Criminal Law

Many people believe that if they’re stopped for suspicion of drunk driving and their breath alcohol test shows a blood alcohol level of .08% or over, there’s little, if anything, they can do to fight an OWI/DUI charge. That’s not necessarily true.

There are numerous alcohol breath testing tools on the market for police departments and other law enforcement agencies to choose from. However, like any device that relies on technology and human beings to work, none of them guarantee accurate results every time.

The New York Times conducted an investigation and found that alcohol breath testing devices used throughout the country often provide inaccurate information. Judges are increasingly declining to accept them as evidence.

What can cause an alcohol breath test to produce a faulty reading? There are any number of things, including improper setup, maintenance and calibration. Even tests that are done in police stations rather than in the field can provide inaccurate results because of software or hardware issues.

Last year, Indiana State Police began using a new type of alcohol breath test tool to be used during field sobriety tests. It can detect the presence of alcohol in the air as well as on someone’s breath. Currently, alcohol breath tests administered in the field can’t be used as evidence in Indiana courts.

However, courts in some states do accept them as evidence of drunk driving. The results that could determine whether or not a person is convicted could be from a tool that’s not recommended or even one where certain features have been disabled or unapproved chemicals are used.

One of the things your attorney can do is obtain information on the tool used for any breath alcohol test you took and on the qualifications of the officer(s) who administered it. An experienced attorney can also provide you with valuable advice based on your individual circumstances.