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DWIs, Breathalyzers, and the Law

If you were pulled over by a police officer under the suspicion of a DWI and submitted to a breathalyzer test, blowing a result that was greater than the legal limit, chances are you were arrested. Your first step should, of course, be to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can diligently protect your rights and ensure the justice system does not take advantage of you. Many individuals often neglect to seek legal help and assume that the results of the breathalyzer are enough to earn them a DWI conviction. However, you would be wrong in this assumption. Breathalyzer test results can be inaccurate and countless individuals have successfully challenged them in court.

Challenging Breathalyzer Test Results

How does a breathalyzer work? It is essentially calculating your BAC from the air you exhale by multiplying the amount in the air by the number 2,100, which is also known as the “partition ratio.” The partition ratio is generally used since the average person exhales about 1/2100th of the alcohol amount that is in their blood. Unfortunately, this figure is highly speculative since the actual amount can vary over time and from person to person. There are also other variables that are not taken into account, such as respiration rate and body temperature, which could ultimately render the results of this test inaccurate by a long shot.

Moreover, there are other substances in a person’s mouth that could contain alcohol, which could provide a false reading. For example, if you are taking certain toothache medicines, recently used mouthwash, or even burped or vomited prior to taking the breathalyzer test, the results could be far off the mark. This is because the substance’s proximity to the breathalyzer tool could cause it to give off a stronger reading than what your lungs are actually producing.

You should also keep in mind that a breathalyzer is a tool and, like many other tools, is subject to malfunctioning, whether because it was not properly calibrated, not calibrated at all, improperly maintained, or because the officer who used it was not adequately trained on how to operate it.

How Frequently Are Breathalyzers Calibrated?

Every state has its own laws regarding how breathalyzers are to be calibrated. It is not uncommon for recalibration to be required either every 10 days or after 150 uses. There are also some basic guidelines most states follow in order for the breathalyzer’s results to hold up in court, which include:

  • The breathalyzer must be on the list of acceptable devices
  • The breathalyzer must be checked for accuracy at certain intervals and properly maintained
  • The administering officer must be certified in the use of the breathalyzer device and use it in accordance with the training he or she received
  • The breathalyzer test must consistently provide two readings or more that are within .02 percent of each other

How Can it be Proven that a Breathalyzer Test Was Inaccurate?

If you have a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, he or she will review your case and determine what went wrong with your breathalyzer test results. This could involve demonstrating that the administering officer did not obey all of the applicable calibration procedures or arguing that the device was not properly maintained. To accomplish this, your attorney will subpoena the maintenance and calibration records for the breathalyzer that was used during your test.

Ultimately, there are many variables that can lead to an inaccurate breathalyzer reading, which is why you should not assume that the reading you received was accurate. A lot is at stake in a DWI case and you owe it to yourself to do everything you can to protect your future.

DWI Criminal Defense Attorney in Rochester

If you are facing DWI charges, do not hesitate to obtain the skilled legal representation you need to protect your rights and your future. I am attorney Christopher K. Rodeman and I will serve as your aggressive legal advocate and diligently defend you in court. Backed by over 20 years of experience in handling incredibly complex cases, you can rest assured that your case will be in good hands when you call my office for help.

Get the fierce legal representation you deserve and contact me today at (585) 928-4193 for a free case evaluation.