NY Breathalyzer tests are not always accurate

Getting pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in New York can be extremely overwhelming. Not only do people run the risk of being subjected to field sobriety tests, but they may be asked to take a Breathalyzer test as well. Law officials use Breathalyzer devices to determine if drivers are operating a vehicle while intoxicated; however, studies show that these tests are not always accurate. This can lead to a person being wrongfully arrested and convicted of a DUI.

How to Breathalyzer devices work?

Breathalyzer devices offer police officers a way to calculate a driver's blood alcohol content without having to obtain an actual blood sample from the individual. After the driver blows through a tube that is attached to the device, the breath sample is analyzed for alcohol content. The amount of alcohol present in the breath sample is then converted to blood alcohol content reading.

Determining the accuracy of the results

A peer reviewed study conducted by LaBianca, Simpson, Thompson et al. discovered a 50 percent discrepancy between the BAC results from a Breathalyzer test and the BAC results from an actual blood test. This means that a person with an actual BAC of 0.05 percent may receive a reading of 0.1 percent on a Breathalyzer device, which would lead to their arrest.

Many states allow Breathalyzer results to be used in court as irrefutable evidence that a person was intoxicated while driving. However, some states now require blood samples to be used in order to obtain an accurate BAC level.

Compromised Breathalyzer results

According to an article published by the State University of New York, Breathalyzer devices determine the BAC of a breath sample by measuring the amount of ethyl alcohol contained in the sample. Interestingly enough, there are a number of substances found in human breath that have similar molecular structures to ethyl alcohol, including acetone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that dieters and diabetics may have a high concentration of acetone in their breath, leading to a false Breathalyzer reading.

The State University of New York also reports several other factors that may influence a Breathalyzer reading. These include:

  • Chemicals found in paint, cleaning fluids and gasoline.
  • Tobacco smoke.
  • Interference from cellphones and police radios.
  • Blood in the driver's mouth.
  • Ingestion of bread products.
  • Physical activity.

Partnering with an attorney

A DUI conviction can be devastating to a person's life and comes with excessive fines, revocation of your driver's license and even jail time. People facing DUI charges may want to team up with a reputable attorney who can help them formulate a strong defense case.