Swain Law Group
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Suspected of DUI? Take a minute, take a breath -- or maybe not

Most, if not all, drivers in Oklahoma know what a Breathalyzer test is. It may not be something they have personally used, but they are aware that law enforcement officials use this test in order to check for suspected impairment. What is this test all about and how can it help a police officer arrest you for DUI?

At first glance, the Breathalyzer looks like such a simple little machine. However, inside that tiny box a lot happens the second you provide a breath sample.

How does it work exactly?

Inside the Breathalyzer are two vials. Each vial holds a variety of chemicals that will change their color if there is a detection of alcohol in your breath sample. The color change of the photocell color is then converted into an electrical impulse and a blood alcohol percentage shows up on the screen. The greater the color change, the higher the BAC readout will be.


Lawmakers do believe these machines to be extremely accurate. This is why law enforcement officers typically keep them in their vehicles while on patrol so that they are ready to use. However, there have been enough cases of false positives that make people wonder how accurate these machines really are. The truth of the matter is, due to the potential for human, chemical and mechanical errors, breath tests are often far from accurate. Things that can affect accuracy include:

  • Improper calibration
  • Improper cleaning
  • Failing to maintain the device
  • Broken vials or other parts

Proving that any of these issues contributed to a high BAC readout can be a significant challenge.

To take it or not to take it? That is the question

Due to the potential for error, some question whether they should even take a Breathalyzer test when asked by law enforcement. At the end of the day, this is a personal decision. There are typically consequences for refusing, but those might be easier to address than fighting the results of the readout.

If you are ever pulled over for a suspected DUI, remember that you do have rights. If exercising those rights results in criminal charges, you can turn to an experienced criminal defense attorney who will be able to help you navigate through the criminal court process and fight for the best possible outcome.


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