Can breath test results be unreliable?

On Behalf of | May 1, 2020 | DWI

It is a sight most Texas residents probably dread—driving down the highway or local road and seeing flashing lights in one’s rearview mirror, asking them to pull over. As the pulled over driver is waiting for the police officer to administer a breath test to check his or her blood alcohol content, they are likely to be thinking about the number of drinks they had before getting behind the wheel and how long ago it happened. Many are often surprised by seeing a reading of more than 0.08%, the legal limit, even though they may not have consumed that much alcohol.

However, the breathalyzer tests are treated as solid evidence in the criminal justice system, with few stopping to think it might be possible the results are erroneous. In fact, a number of states across the country have begun throwing out breath-test evidence for being inaccurate.

Getting a correct result depends a lot on the machine being used. Has it been calibrated properly? Is it being operated properly and has it been routinely maintained? Is the software on the device being run error-free? When these factors are not considered, the machine can end up giving inaccurate results that can send a suspected drunk driver’s life into a tailspin. Recent data has shown that thousands of results across the country have been invalidated, because machines had not been set up properly, results were getting rounded up, or because old test chemicals that had lost their potency were being used.

The consequences of a first, second or third DWI charge are very serious. In addition to losing one’s driver’s license, it is possible that the driver faces financial penalties and time in jail. Even those facing minor penalties in a first DWI should know that the consequences pile up with subsequent charges. Therefore, fighting them aggressively from the onset can go a long way in protecting one’s rights in the long-run. An experienced defense attorney can discuss the various ways breath rest results can be challenged with someone facing DWI charges.

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