Are Breathalyzers Always Accurate?

In Rancho Cucamonga, California, a police officer can pull you over when you’re driving if they have probable cause. This can include anything ranging from seeing you swerve on the road or noticing a taillight out on your car. If you are pulled over and the officer suspects you may be driving drunk, they can ask you to take a breathalyzer test. These are used to measure the amount of alcohol in your system, but you may wonder about their accuracy. In this blog post, we’re breaking down just how accurate breathalyzers really are.

What Does a Breathalyzer Measure?

A breathalyzer is meant to measure the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath after they have been drinking and the liquid has reached their bloodstream. When blood passes through the lungs, alcohol vapor then seeps out of the body through the person’s breath. This is also referred to as “breath alcohol,” which contains microscopic molecules that include alcohol content. Breathalyzers are meant to detect this minute amount of alcohol found in a person’s breath and measure its amount.

Are Breathalyzers Accurate?

A breathalyzer test can give an accurate reading. However, they have been known to err in some instances, causing their readings to be inaccurate. The devices are susceptible to errors due to several factors, including the following:

  • The device’s margin of error

  • Physiological differences in drivers

  • Interference from radio frequency

  • Improper calibration of the device

  • Residual alcohol in a person’s mouth

  • Something tainting the breath sample

There are two types of devices used to measure breath alcohol: the evidential breath test (EBT) device and the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device. Overall, EBTs tend to be more accurate and are found at police stations. PAS devices are less reliable, but because they are portable, they are usually the first device used to test your BAC. Because PAS devices are used for tests done on the road, there is a higher chance of error in your first screening.

The Margin of Error of Breathalyzers

Even in the best circumstances, there is a risk of an inaccurate reading as the devices are not perfect. In some breathalyzers, for instance, the margin of error is only 0.01 percent which doesn’t seem like much. However, it means if you are asked to take a breathalyzer test your BAC could be read at 0.08 percent, the legal limit, but it might actually be 0.07 percent, below the legal limit.

Because there are so many discrepancies when it comes to breathalyzer tests, there’s a lot of room for argument and negotiation. If you have been arrested for drunk driving and believe the breathalyzer was inaccurate, contact the law offices of Newman & Allen immediately to speak with a Rancho Cucamonga, criminal defense attorney. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers will help you with our thorough investigation tactics and tireless fight to potentially get the charges against you reduced or even dropped altogether.

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