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Are Breath Tests Always Accurate?

Are breath tests always accurate?If police pull you over because they suspect you are driving under the influence of alcohol, they may ask you to submit to a breath test. There are two types of breath tests that law enforcement could use. A preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) may be done at a traffic stop with a small handheld device. These are often called “breathalyzers.” If you are arrested and held in custody, then you might be asked to submit to a chemical breath test.

Breath test results can sometimes be challenged. These tests may be inaccurate for reasons that include but are not limited to:

  • Incorrect calibration: Police officers have to regularly calibrate breathalyzers and other breath test devices. If they are not calibrated correctly by qualified individuals, it could produce an inaccurate reading.
  • Lack of maintenance: Breath test devices require maintenance and must be regularly checked for accuracy. If these devices are not maintained, they could produce false results.
  • Test errors: There are rules for breath tests (and other tests) that police officers are required to follow. If these rules are not followed, inaccurate breath test results may be produced.
  • Health conditions: Certain health conditions may trigger inaccurate readings during a breath test. For example, a person with diabetes has high levels of acetone, which may be picked up as ethanol by a breath test. Acid reflux disease (also called GERD) may also interfere with readings.

Can I Challenge Breath Test Results?

Breath test results may be used in court, but they can also be challenged by your attorney in some cases. Whether your attorney could challenge the results depends on the specifics of the case. This is one of many reasons why it is important to select a criminal defense attorney with experience contesting DUI tests. There could also be other reasons why your DUI charges could be called into question. Challenging an erroneous breath test may not be the only criminal defense strategy that could be used in your case.

Santa Clara DUI defense lawyer Daniel Jensen has experience with cases in criminal, civil, state and federal courts. For a consultation explaining your legal rights and possible defense options, please give the Law Office of Daniel Jensen, LLP. a call at (408)296-4100. You can also describe your situation by filling out our online contact form.


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