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Will a police Breathalyzer test ever be wrong?

On Behalf of | Aug 19, 2021 | Drunk Driving

As one of the defining tests during a traffic stop, a Breathalyzer’s findings are taken seriously. If the test comes back over .08% multiple times, then the person driving that vehicle could be arrested and face further blood alcohol testing at the police station.

There are some issues with Breathalyzer tests that make them less reliable than people may believe. Human error, as well as health issues and inaccurate testing procedures, could result in a false positive test that negatively impacts a driver’s life.

How does human error impact Breathalyzer tests?

To start with, Breathalyzer tests need to be calibrated and used a specific way each time. If the police officer using the test did not store it correctly, didn’t prime it (when required) or didn’t wait long enough before starting the test, then the reading could come back inaccurate.

How do health problems impact Breathalyzer tests?

Health problems such as diabetes or acid reflux may influence the results on a Breathalyzer test. Someone with high blood sugar could trigger a high reading despite drinking no alcohol at all. Someone with acid reflux might burp or blech while taking the test, and additional alcohol could be pushed into the machine to produce a higher reading than it should.

These and other health issues may result in false positives or high readings that don’t accurately reflect a person’s blood alcohol concentration.

How will inaccurate testing influence a Breathalyzer test?

One of the most important parts of testing a person’s blood alcohol concentration is to verify it more than once. However, officers have to wait long enough between those tests. Usually, the time frame is around 15 minutes. If they don’t wait long enough, then the test results may be thrown out due to a procedural error.

If you are stopped by the police and fail a Breathalyzer test, it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to be convicted of drunk driving. You have the option to fight back against the officer’s findings and to look into ways to defend yourself against an unfair charge and the penalties that could result from it.