A breath test can be administered by a police department to determine someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). For example, a police officer may pull over a driver for making erratic maneuvers. The officer may then have that person do field sobriety tests, and, if they fail those tests, take them back to the station for a breath test.
When this test gives a result of 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol concentration) or higher, it is a violation of state law. People often assume that these tests are very accurate, especially because drunk driving charges can be given out based almost solely on these test results. But could they be inaccurate?
Using the wrong test
One potential issue is that a police officer could use the wrong type of breath test. There are specific brands and models that are approved and many that are not. Consumer devices can’t be used in court.
Another issue is that the breath test itself has to be set up correctly, it has to be calibrated on a set schedule and it needs to be properly maintained. If any of this is not done, it calls the results into question.
Making mistakes during the test
Finally, police officers can certainly make errors during the test that invalidate the results, even if the test should’ve worked properly. Maybe the officer never got training. Maybe he or she works at a department where certain safeguard features have been disabled. These types of issues have been reported in the past and could certainly mean that the results of a breath test do not offer conclusive evidence of someone’s level of impairment.
Have you been arrested on allegations of drunk driving? If so, be sure you understand all of your legal defense options.