How Accurate Are Breathalyzer Tests?

Columbus has lots of bars that adults frequent to blow off some steam and have a good time. If you just finished a big project at work or your college finals and celebrate out on a Friday night, you won’t be alone. Yet, if on your way home police suspect you are driving drunk and pull you over, you may face a breathalyzer test. If your blood alcohol content measures at .08 or higher, police will arrest you for OVI (operating a vehicle impaired).

You may think there’s no point in disputing your drunk driving charges after your breathalyzer results. However, you could be wrong. In 2019, The New York Times reported that at times, breathalyzer tests show inaccurate blood alcohol levels. In fact, some breathalyzer results are up to 40% too high.

Some of the reasons breathalyzers show inaccurate results include the following:

  1. The police department didn’t maintain the breathalyzer equipment. If breathalyzers are kept in dusty areas and aren’t cleaned, their effectiveness to conduct accurate tests can decline.
  2. The police officer didn’t administer the breathalyzer test properly.
  3. The breathalyzer had a software or calibration problem. Breathalyzers utilize software to calculate their readings. Law enforcement needs to calibrate them regularly too. If there’s a software or calibration error, the test results can be inaccurate.
  4. You have a medical condition, such as diabetes or acid reflux, that caused an inaccurate test result. With either diabetes or acid reflux, a breathalyzer can misread your enzymes as ethyl alcohol.
  5. You used a mouthwash to try to mask alcohol on your breath. Yet instead, the mouthwash caused an inaccurate breath test because many mouthwashes have a high alcohol concentration.

Anytime, you face drunk driving charges after a breathalyzer test, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can investigate if your breathalyzer results were inaccurate and if you can get your OVI charges reduced or dismissed.

An OVI conviction can result in you having to pay hefty fines, serve time in jail and have your license suspended. An OVI also can limit your future employment opportunities and raise your insurance rates for years. You want to ensure that the drunk driving charges against you weren’t the result of an inaccurate breathalyzer test.