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Are breath test results always accurate?

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2020 | DUI Charges |

While watching television or movies, you’ve probably seen the depiction of law enforcement officers utilizing breath test machines. Maybe you’ve even witnessed it in real life. It is that little box officers ask drivers to breathe into when they suspect them of driving drunk. Law enforcement officers in Oklahoma depend on these devices to get impaired drivers off of the road, but are these machines always accurate?

Here’s a simple truth. No, they are not 100% accurate. Several things can affect test results. This means that every year numerous people face DUI charges who probably should not. 

Substances that affect the accuracy

For the general population, driving with a BAC of .08% or higher is against the law. This percentage is lower for commercial vehicle operators and underage drinkers. The breath test allows officers to see one’s BAC so they can determine if an arrest is warranted. There are several substances other than alcohol than can increase your BAC percentage. Some include:

  • Various tobacco products
  • Mouthwashes
  • Breath fresheners
  • Some medications

 Many people use such products as part of their everyday lives. 

Administrator error

Breath test machines require careful calibration and maintenance in order to be as accurate as possible. Unfortunately, not all police departments keep up with this maintenance as they should. On top of that, those administering breath tests require training. Those who are not trained or not appropriately trained may make mistakes that could cause false readouts.

Think before you drink

Everybody processes alcohol in different ways. Weight, gender, height and food intake, among other things, can all affect one’s BAC. Some people can drink more than others and still not meet the legal definition of impairment. However, one’s BAC may come up elevated on a breath test anyway. So, you might want to take that into account if you plan to drink, even just a little bit, before you drive. 

If you end up facing a DUI charge…

If you end up under arrest and charged with DUI, it may not be the end of the world. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your situation seriously. Fighting a DUI charge is a must. Failing to do so can have significant consequences. With assistance, you may question breath test accuracy and, in doing so, get the results thrown out if there is evidence that suggests that the results are questionable.