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Are breathalyzer tests actually accurate?

Mississippi residents who have been arrested for drunk driving have likely undergone a breathalyzer test. This is a BAC test that helps to reveal whether or not a driver is at or above the legal limit of .08%. Unfortunately, the accuracy of these tests has been criticized lately by experts for various reasons.

Poor calibration

Before a suspected drunk driver takes a breathalyzer test, the device must be properly calibrated by the officer. Depending on the specific device, each manufacturer has its own instructions for calibration that must be followed. For example, some breathalyzer devices must be recalibrated after each use. If an officer doesn’t recalibrate the device in between tests, the latter of the tests may be inaccurate.

Medical condition interference

A breathalyzer works by measuring the amount of vapor alcohol in a person’s lungs. When it does this, it will also pick up any alcohol content that is present in a person’s mouth. Those with GERD may actually have an elevated blood alcohol level due to their bodies pushing undigested alcohol back up their digestive tracts. In addition, those with diabetes tend to have elevated acetone levels, which can also trigger a higher BAC reading.

Higher-than-average mouth temperature

Breathalyzer tests are based on the assumption that all human beings have the same mouth temperature. The reality is that some individuals may have a higher-than-average mouth temperature. Since the device is not accounting for a higher-than-normal mouth temperature, the results can be skewed for individuals with naturally higher mouth temperatures.

For decades, the breathalyzer was considered an accurate device that has been upheld in court as an uncontested form of evidence. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the truth. More and more experts are starting to pick apart the various problems with these devices. Only time will tell if those convicted of a DUI based on a breathalyzer test will be acquitted or not. If you have questions about the validity of a breathalyzer test, reach out to an attorney who may be able to help you.