We’ve already talked about how having a fever, using a diet mixer, eating a low-carb diet and simply having diabetes can all throw off a breathalyzer test, but those are hardly the only things that can mess with the test’s effectiveness. Unfortunately, while there are many factors which can affect the accuracy of a breath result, the prosecution’s experts will usually claim the breathalyzer was working properly. Your attorney’s toxicologist can always challenge the reliability of the breathalyzer, but it is important to realize the prosecution rarely dismisses cases based upon claims the breathalyzer result is invalid, so these cases will usually go to trial. If you already plan on going to trial though, these factors can provide additional support to your not guilty plea.
While calibration and proper working order are the biggest issues fighting breathalyzer results, there are some other things that can throw off the results of a breath test:
- Temperature changes in the room that the machines have not been calibrated to
- Breathing patterns (Holding your breath for 30 seconds can increase the results by .01%, which is enough to put you over the legal limit)
- The temperature of a suspect’s mouth
- Chemicals within the testing room, such as paint, cleansers, gasoline and more, which can falsely increase the results of the test
- Acid reflux of the suspect, which will make results falsely inflated
- Cigarette smoking, as smokers will often have higher levels of acetaldehyde in their system, which breathalyzers will frequently interpret as alcohol
Additionally, factors like how long ago you drank and if you vomited or burped can affect the test. For example, if you drank immediately before driving, you would not have absorbed the alcohol into your system and would not be intoxicated, but by the time you took the breathalyzer after being arrested, the alcohol will have entered your system. Alternatively, if you still had alcohol in your mouth from a drink, the test will be artificially high as it will be measuring that alcohol, not what’s in your system. Vomiting or burping will also increase your test results by adding additional alcohol fumes to your breath. If you vomit or burp, police are supposed to wait at least 15 minutes before performing a breathalyzer test, but this rule is often overlooked.
With all this in mind, it’s easy to see why anyone who has failed a breathalyzer should immediately contact a DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Make sure you also record everything you can remember about the arrest and breathalyzer test. If you smoked, vomited, had a fever or held your breath, it could affect your results.
If you have any questions about breathalyzer machines or if you have been accused of driving under the influence, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.