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How accurate is a Breathalyzer test?

For years, California police officers have used field sobriety exams, chemical tests and breath analysis tools to detect intoxicated drivers. However, the differences between these strategies have stirred debate about which tests are the most accurate and appropriate. Breathalyzers are a very common tool in highway patrol cars, but they are still controversial for a number of reasons.

If you face DUI charges, the evidence against you should be accurate and fair. Your Breathalyzer result should reflect the level of alcohol in your body. In any DUI case, however, the result is only as good as the machine. If the Breathalyzer was flawed, a court will have to seriously question the evidence against you.

Officers who use Breathalyzers must make sure that the machine is properly calibrated. This means that it won’t add or subtract unnecessary amounts to your result. A completely sober person should produce a result that shows there is no alcohol in their body. The Breathalyzer should also show multiple consistent results.

Officers are supposed to document maintenance, such as changing batteries, to prove that it is in working order. These records can ensure that innocent drivers do not incur punishment for no legitimate reason.

While it is fairly rare, other chemicals could also affect Breathalyzer results. For example, mouthwash contains a small amount of alcohol, which could raise your results even while you’re fully sober. An assortment of legal substances can intermingle with the air in your lungs to give a false positive, from medication to cough drops.

A breath analysis isn’t the only argument you will have to face in court, but it could be a major obstacle to overcome in your case. Your criminal defense attorney can help you verify the accuracy of the Breathalyzer in question as well as prepare you for the trial.

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