Many people assume that when a DUI suspect fails a breathalyzer test that there will be an open and shut case leading to a conviction. But, this isn’t necessarily the case. Breathalyzer tests can be wrong, and claiming that a breathalyzer test has rendered a false positive is a legitimate defense in some cases. If you have failed a breathalyzer test and been charged with DUI, it is imperative that you contact an experienced DUI defense attorney to investigate your case.
Like any other electronic measuring instrument, breathalyzer machines must be properly calibrated in order to give accurate results. If a breathalyzer machine was not properly calibrated and maintained, the results may be inaccurate. In other cases, the machine itself may simply be unreliable. For instance, in a recent Ohio case the judge threw out breathalyzer test results on the basis that the machine the police were using, the “Intoxilyzer 8000,” was not a scientifically reliable BAC measuring instrument.
Electromagnetic interference from other nearby equipment can also impair breathalyzer machine functioning. Older breathalyzer machines are particularly vulnerable to malfunctioning when radio waves from a police cruiser or signals from a cell phone interfere with them. A federal government study from 1983 noted that a majority of breathalyzer machines then in use were susceptible to errors caused by electromagnetic interference.
False Positive Caused By Health Issue
It is well known among DUI defense attorneys that people suffering from acid reflux sometimes show false-positives when given a breathalyzer test. The reason is that breathalyzer machines are intended to measure alcohol content that is emitted from the lungs, but sufferers of acid reflux also emit alcohol content from their stomachs.
Diabetes can also greatly inflate test results. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, diabetics often have acetone levels many times greater than normal. For some types of breathalyzer machines, this will cause a false showing of intoxication.
Digestive diseases or diseases that affect metabolism can also impact breathalyzer results. There is even such a thing as auto-brewery syndrome, which occurs when a person’s stomach naturally ferments alcohol all on its own. If you’ve failed a breathalyzer test, you should notify your attorney of any health issues you have as this could be useful information.
Working with or otherwise being exposed to certain substances, such as paint thinner or gasoline, could also cause a person to show a false positive result for a breathalyzer test. Additionally, anything a person eats or drinks prior to taking the test could affect the results. For instance, mouthwash that includes alcohol can falsely cause a breathalyzer test to show intoxication. Similarly, cold or pain medications can inflate test results.
If You’ve Been Charged With DUI, Contact an Experienced Attorney
The consequences of a DUI conviction can be severe. There can be fines and jail time, court costs, and a license suspension or revocation. There can also be lost employment opportunities, social stigma, and potentially more negative consequences. You should do everything you can to ensure that you get the best defense possible. Failing a breathalyzer test does not necessarily mean that you will be found guilty of a DUI.
Although these cases can seem straightforward, there are often complicated issues of law and fact that an experienced attorney can navigate effectively for you. An experienced attorney can investigate the facts of your case and help you understand your potential defenses. Attorney Martin Azarian has been providing clients throughout Minnesota with skilled and assertive DUI defense for over 21 years. If you have been charged with DUI, contact us at the Martin Azarian Law Firm today for a free consultation.