If you have been pulled over and taken a breathalyzer test in Louisiana, you might be concerned about how the results can affect your future. Failing a breathalyzer test and facing DUI charges should be taken seriously. However, the results of these tests can be false and influenced by other factors besides your alcohol consumption.
At John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm, we understand a false breathalyzer could potentially serve as a key piece of evidence in your case. Gathering information about your situation and what could have caused your failed test could be overwhelming to take on alone. Fortunately, our experienced legal team is here to take you through every step of the legal process.
How Do Breathalyzer Tests Work?
The breathalyzer test is the most common way the police will test your blood alcohol content (BAC) level, and the police rely on them to issue DUI charges and arrests. Breath tests administered by the police measure the amount of alcohol in the air when you exhale. The machine converts this measurement into a BAC reading. Any BAC measurement over 0.08% is considered over the legal limit.
Because the machine tests the air and not your blood directly, a breathalyzer test may not be as accurate as an actual blood test. According to the National Motorist Association, peer-reviewed studies have shown up to a 50% margin of error in breathalyzer tests compared to blood tests. If you have certain health conditions, take medications, or if the machine itself was not calibrated, your BAC results could be incorrect.
What Could Cause a False Breathalyzer Test Result?
When taking a breathalyzer test, you may not realize other elements can affect your test results. Because breathalyzer tests do not measure your BAC directly by taking a blood sample, your reading could be inaccurate for the following reasons:
Several medical conditions and their treatments can alter the results of a breathalyzer test. For example, individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may experience false results because the conditions can cause alcohol to move from the lungs to the back of the throat. This can cause the BAC levels to read higher. If those with GERD have eaten something that causes acid reflux, their BAC results could also be inaccurate.
Additionally, diabetics and those participating in fasting diets have higher levels of acetone in their breath, which could lead to higher BAC results. The same goes for those with asthma who use albuterol or other inhalants as a treatment. Breathalyzers may register these medications as alcohol in your breath.
Other Chemical Compounds
Besides medical conditions and treatments, other chemical compounds from your everyday routine or natural bodily functions could also affect breathalyzer test results. These chemical compounds include the following:
- Cold or cough medicines
- Mouthwash and breath spray
- Gasoline, paint, or other fumes
- Gas from belching or vomiting
- Certain bread products
- Liqueurs in certain foods
- Lip balm
- Menthol-infused tobacco products
These chemical compounds could potentially lead to a higher BAC reading and wrongful DUI charge. Our legal team may be able to help you discover if any of these chemicals contributed to your test results and reduce your charges or, in the best case, get your charges dismissed.
Improper Maintenance or Police Error
Another factor that could affect the results of your breathalyzer test is poor maintenance of the testing equipment. The police department is responsible for ensuring the devices are working correctly and testing them regularly. Officers must also ensure they calibrate the machines regularly. If the police neglect to run proper maintenance and calibration on the testing equipment, it could lead to false results.
Police departments are also responsible for training new officers to use breathalyzer machines. Your results could be inaccurate if the officer administering the test was improperly trained.
Contact a Knowledgeable Louisiana Criminal Defense Lawyer at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm
We understand being pulled over and taking a breathalyzer test is stressful, and the results could seriously impact your life. However, it’s important to analyze all aspects of your situation because you may have received a false result. This process can be challenging, so our lawyers may be able to help you through the process.
At John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm, we dedicate ourselves to serving the Minden, Louisiana area and defending your rights. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to fight for you and provide the best representation. For a free consultation, you can call us at (318) 377-1555 or fill out our contact form.