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Why you may want to challenge breathalyzer evidence

If you are like most people, you likely labor under the mistaken belief that breathalyzers infallibly measure your blood alcohol content. Consequently, you mistakenly believe that if law enforcement officers stop you for allegedly driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and your breathalyzer test result shows a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, this represents iron-clad evidence upon which the jury can convict you of OVI. 

What you likely fail to realize is that breathalyzers often produce inaccurate results. In fact, experts estimate that as many as 23% of the defendants convicted of DUI/OVI nationwide are the victims of inaccurate breathalyzer results. 

Factors affecting BAC accuracy 

Many factors can and do enter into the accuracy of any BAC result, including the following: 

  • Whether you had an unusually high body temperature at the time you took the breathalyzer test 
  • Whether you have diabetes 
  • Whether you took a legal prescription medication shortly before you took the breathalyzer test 
  • Whether you used a mouthwash or breath mint shortly before you took the breathalyzer test 
  • Whether you used a paint thinner or remover or certain cleaning fluids shortly before you took the breathalyzer test 
  • Whether you consumed food that contained vinegar, such as a salad dressing, shortly before taking the breathalyzer test 

If any of the above apply to you, you and your attorney may well wish to challenge the breathalyzer results in court. 

Additional possible challenges 

You and your attorney have other possible ways to challenge the results of your breathalyzer test as well. For instance, each breathalyzer has its own calibration and maintenance requirements. Many require calibration with a specific tool prior to each use. Did your officer properly calibrate your breathalyzer? 

Most breathalyzer manufacturers recommend initial and ongoing specific training for officers using their device. Did your officer receive this training? 

All you and your attorney need to prevent your OVI conviction is reasonable doubt in the mind(s) of the judge or jury. Presenting your own credible evidence of the reasons why your breathalyzer result likely was inaccurate represents your wisest strategy.