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3 Ways to Challenge a Breathalyzer in a DUI Case

Breathalyzer tests, which calibrate your blood alcohol content based on the molecules of alcohol in your breath, have long been the favorite piece of evidence for prosecutors to drag out whenever someone's charged with driving under the influence (DUI). After all, breathalyzer tests are supposed to be scientific, accurate, and fair.

Except breathalyzer tests aren't always those three things. There are several very good reasons that you shouldn't assume that you'll automatically be convicted of a DUI based on a breathalyzer alone. Here are some of the ways your attorney can challenge the reading:

1. The machine wasn't working properly.

Breathalyzers are complicated electronics — yet they spend a lot of time being jostled around a police car. They are also hauled out and used under some pretty rough conditions, over and over again. A breathalyzer that hasn't been properly maintained and calibrated can easily give misleading results.  That sort of thing happens more frequently than people realize. For example, Massachusetts once had to throw out two years worth of breathalyzer tests unreliable because only two breathalyzers in use in the entire state had ever been calibrated.

2. The machine wasn't operated correctly.

Not every officer who operates a breathalyzer does so with the same skill — and you certainly can't be expected to know how they work! An officer may have made mistakes simply because he or she was under pressure or just inexperienced. By delving into the experience and training of the officer in your case, it may be possible to show that the breathalyzer readings might not be reliable.

3. The science behind the machine cannot be trusted.

It's important to remember that a breathalyzer is simply not as reliable as a blood test. Many different factors can throw a breathalyzer's results out of whack. For example, burping right before you breathe into the tube is known to increase the blood alcohol content (BAC) score. Similarly, even the temperature of your breath can disrupt the readings. Studies have shown that it only takes a single degree over the normal temperature of human breath to increase the BAC by 6%.

These aren't the only possible ways to challenge a breathalyzer reading — but every case relies on its own unique details. If you've been arrested for drunk driving based on the reading from a breathalyzer, talk to a DUI lawyer today. They can help you address your case and get some form of closure.