February 5, 2015 | DUI Law, DUI Penalties
Breath tests performed on a breathalyzer machine are a common sight in many Lexington DUI cases. The breathalyzer test is supposed to measure the ratio between the volume of that person’s breath an the alcohol contained in that breath sample and report a “breath alcohol concentration,” typically abbreviated as BrAC.
In order to do this, the driver blows into a mouthpiece connected to a tube whose other end is connected to the actual breathalyzer machine. The driver blows for a certain length of time so that the machine has a sufficient volume of breath to analyze. Through a complex series of algorithms and formulas, the machine takes the sample provided, detects alcohol molecules in that sample, and then renders a reading or conclusion as to that driver’s alcohol concentration.
Problems with Breath Tests
Prosecutors, police, and legislators like when drivers take breath tests. This is why some state legislatures have criminalized a DUI driver’s refusal of a breath or other test. Other states like Kentucky increase the DUI penalties for a driver who refuses a test and is found guilty. Many in the law enforcement community – police and prosecutors – feel that a DUI breath test is irrefutable proof of intoxication and pressure DUI drivers to plead guilty as a result. But as one news story from Colorado shows, the accuracy of these tests is sometimes called into question.
Attacking a Breath Test in Court
If you have been charged with a DUI after a breath test, it is important to have that test result examined by an experienced Lexington DUI defense attorney. The test result may be inaccurate for a variety of reasons, including:
- The machine was improperly maintained. Breath test machines require certain regular maintenance. Sometimes this maintenance can be performed by a local police officer with special training; sometimes the machine must be sent back to the manufacturer. A machine that is serviced by someone without the proper training, or an officer who attempts a repair he or she is not qualified to do, can lead to a machine that produces inaccurate results.
- The machine’s environment is polluted. More modern breath tests are supposed to be able to detect the presence of “interferants” – things in the environment that make it difficult for the machine to conduct an accurate test. These would include strong colognes and other chemicals in the same room as the testing machine. If these interferants were present in the same room as the machine but the machine tested anyway, it could lead to an inaccurate result.
- The testing officer did not follow protocol. Most important here, the officer is supposed to “deprive” you of food and drink for a period of at least 20 minutes before you take a breath test. During this time you are to be in the officer’s presence and the officer is supposed to watch for burping, belching, vomiting, or other similar behaviors. If you engage in any sort of behavior like this, but the officer still gives you the test anyway, your test results may be inaccurate.
Contact Us for Help with Your DUI
If you have been charged with DUI after a breath test, do not enter a plea until you have spoken with the knowledgeable attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC.
To learn more, call our law firm at 859-569-4014 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.