The Breathalyzer is a chemical breath test device that police commonly use in traffic stops to test a driver’s blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. A driver who shows a BAC of 0.08% is presumed to be intoxicated, and so Breathalyzer test results are among the most powerful evidence prosecutors have when they make a case against a driver on drunk driving charges.
However, Breathalyzer tests are not always accurate and their results should not always be taken as the last word on the matter. In this post, we will discuss some defense strategies to argue against Breathalyzer test results.
Breathalyzer tests may not always produce reliable results for a variety of different reasons. This may call into question the criminal charges they oftentimes underpin. During 2019, greater than 30,000 Breathalyzer tests were thrown out in 2 different states during a 12-month period primarily due to human error and inadequate government oversight of the tests.
In many cases, Breathalyzer tests are improperly calibrated and can produce results that are in some situations 40% too high. Local police departments are oftentimes tasked with maintaining Breathalyzer tests and many lack the expertise and sometimes the resources to do so properly. If Breathalyzer tests are not properly calibrated and maintained, they may produce inaccurate and unreliable test results.
Following a traffic stop, a Breathalyzer test may be administered and following that, the accused driver may be arrested and charged with drunk driving. It is important to understand the different criminal defense options that may be available to challenge the legality of the traffic stop or the reliability of the Breathalyzer test as examples. Drunk driving charges are significant criminal charges that can result in serious penalties and consequences for the accused driver which is why it is essential to be familiar with how to challenge Breathalyzer tests and other aspects of the charges the accused driver is facing.