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Is the Breathalyzer test always accurate?

You've probably seen a Breathalyzer used in movies and television shows. It is that little box an officer will ask a driver to breathe into when the officer suspects the driver of driving under the influence of alcohol. Law enforcement officers in the state of Georgia often use this little machine because it is supposedly extremely accurate. Is it, though?

Here's the real deal. The Breathalyzer device is not perfect, and it is not always accurate. There are a number of things that can result in it producing a false high blood-alcohol level readout.

Substance issues

The Breathalyzer works by detecting alcohol in a breath sample and then transmitting it into a BAC percentage. This percentage is what officers used to gauge a person's level of impairment. Anything over .08% will result in an arrest and DUI charge. The percentage is far lower for commercial drivers and underage drinkers.

There are a number of substances that can cause a Breathalyzer to produce an inaccurate readout. Some of these substances are:

  • Smoking and other tobacco products
  • Mouthwash and other breath fresheners
  • Certain medications

As you can see, there are a lot of products out there that people use every single day that can negatively affect Breathalyzer test results.

Human error

Another issue with breath test devices is that they are prone to human error. All it takes is someone administering a Breathalyzer test without the proper training, without properly calibrating the device or using a device that has not been properly maintained for results to be questionable.

Other things to think about

Everybody processes alcohol differently. Your weight, gender and food intake can all have an effect on how quickly your body breaks down alcohol. For example, a 140 pound woman may ingest a few shots or a couple of beers without having food to go along with the drinks and end up with a BAC of .08% or higher; whereas, a 190 pound male can have the same number of drinks without food and still have a BAC below the legal limit.

When facing a DUI charge?

If you find yourself facing a DUI charge due to failing a Breathalyzer test, it is okay to question whether your results were accurate. If any evidence is present that makes the results questionable, it may be possible to have the breath test data thrown out, which will have a positive impact on your case.

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