Is it possible for a DWI breathalyzer to have incorrect results? Is it possible for a breathalyzer test to say you were driving under the influence, even if you were completely sober? Unfortunately, the answer to both questions is yes.
A breathalyzer such as the DataMaster DMT estimates the blood alcohol content or BAC from a breath sample, and is used to measure the likelihood of an individual’s impairment due to alcohol consumption. Many individuals believe that breath tests are a very accurate method of determining the amount of alcohol present in a person’s blood. Experienced DWI attorneys can attest, however, that these results are not always accurate.
False positive results and the wide range of error can be deemed problematic for Minnesota drivers who either have not been drinking, or who may have been drinking earlier in the day, but no longer have a high BAC. This may mean innocent drivers being arrested for DWI and facing harsh penalties, simply because of incorrect breathalyzer results.
The fact is that numerous variables can affect the outcome of DWI breath tests, thus resulting in a false positive. Improper calibration is one such example. If a breathalyzer is improperly calibrated or maintained, then it may not reveal accurate results. Records must be readily available to show that appropriate maintenance requirements have been met for all machines.
Other examples of variables that can affect the results of a breath test include breathing techniques used during the test, the existence of exhaust or fumes from vehicles passing on the road, or the presence of blood of vomit in an individual’s mouth.
Temperature can also be an important variable when it comes to breath tests. If an individual’s breath sample is even one degree above 34 degrees Celsius in certain machines, then it’s possible for the person’s reading to be up to 7 percent higher than his or her actual BAC.
An individual’s health condition may also affect the outcome of a breathalyzer test. Diabetics dealing with low blood sugar may produce false positive results. This is because the body can produce acetone released by the lungs when the body is in a state of ketosis. A breathalyzer can mistakenly identify this as alcohol. A body deprived of carbohydrates could also go into a state of ketosis in order to burn fat, and so a breathalyzer test could also reveal false positive results in such situation.
Individuals with yeast infections, Lyme disease, or who are following diets that are low in carbohydrates or high in protein may also produce false positive results. In some instances, smoking may also impact breath tests results, smoke being inhaled in the lungs may cause the liver to produce chemicals that the test may identify as alcohol exhaled by the lungs.
In other instances, breath sprays, mouthwash, cold medicine, cough syrup, and even lip balm can cause false positive breath test results if these products contain alcohol.
There are several different factors that can cause a breath test to exhibit inaccurate results. If you are charged for driving under the influence of alcohol or are facing any other offense supported by the results of a breathalyzer, it is crucial to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable DWI attorney as soon as possible.
Source: Breath Analyzer Accuracy, published