Unreliable breath tests may lead to DUI

Breath test device readings may be inaccurate, as the machines may measure more than just the blood alcohol content.

Las Vegas, Nevada is known for its vibrant night life. Friends often get together for dinner, drinks and dancing in the city of lights. When people choose to get behind the wheel after drinking, however, they may get pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Law officers often use roadside breath tests to calculate whether a driver’s blood alcohol content level is at or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Surprisingly, people who have a BAC level that is below the legal limit may be erroneously charged with a DUI due to inaccurate breath test devices. Studies show that the result from breath test devices are not always reliable, and that the variances in these machines could have a dramatic effect on peoples’ lives.

Breath tests vs. blood tests

Rather than measure the amount of ethanol alcohol that is in a person’s blood by taking an actual blood sample, breath tests use a sample of the driver’s exhaled breath to determine the BAC level. The machine then converts the amount of alcohol present in the breath sample to a blood content measurement. One problem lies in the fact that when comparing a breath test device reading with an actual blood test, the results can be significantly different. According to the State University of New York at Potsdam, breath test readings can vary by as much as 15 percent from actual blood tests.

Factors to consider

One explanation for these high variances involves the breath test devices tendency to measure more than simply the amount of ethanol alcohol in a driver’s breath. Research shows that the machines can pick up other substances in the mouth that have similar structures to ethanol. Furthermore, there are certain environmental conditions that can affect breath test readings. These factors include the following:

· Tobacco smoke and pollution.

· Electrical interference from cellphones or officers’ radios.

· Air humidity and temperature.

· Residual drink, food, vomit or blood in the driver’s mouth.

· Gasoline fumes, exhaust, paint and cleaning fluid fumes.

Machines that are not calibrated properly and law officers who do not use the devices correctly are also at fault for false readings.

Protecting your rights

If you have been charged with a DUI, you have rights. A wrongful DUI conviction can wreak havoc in your life, making it hard to find employment, receive financial assistance and obtain a driver’s license. A criminal attorney in Nevada may be helpful in answering your questions and forming a strong case in your defense.