Breath Test Problems and DUIs

Austin Breath Test Problems and DUIs

Posted on: February 17, 2015

A woman taking a breathalyzer testWe at The Law Offices of Jason Trumpler, P.C. are committed to helping people throughout Austin receive a fair shake from the law. This is why we provide strong DWI defense and counsel for drunk driving arrests. We also believe in giving drivers information so they understand their rights and the potential flaws in the system that they may face. With these issues in mind, we'd like to consider issues that may occur with breath tests for blood alcohol content.

About Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

To understand problems with breath tests, it's a good idea to consider the notion of blood alcohol content and the types of tests that are administered. Blood alcohol content (BAC) refers to the amount of alcohol present in a person's blood. The legal limit for most motorists who are over the age of 21 is 0.08%. Commercial drivers can only have a BAC of 0.04%.

The Breathalyzer Test

The breathalyzer is also known as a portable breath test (PBT). This is a relatively compact device with a straw attached. A motorist is asked to blow into the straw, which then measures the alcohol content of the breath.

The Breath Test at the Police Station

The breast test at a police station is a larger and more sophisticated machine than the portable breath test that offers more accurate measurements of the alcohol content of the breath.

Breath Tests Check the Breath, Not the Blood

You'll note that both of these breath tests are analysis of the alcohol on the breath rather than the blood, which can be a problematic issue with regard to assessing BAC. If a motorist has a slow metabolism, for instance, he or she may be absorbing alcohol still, meaning a higher BAC reading with the portable test and the test at the station.

Problems with Calibration Can Lead to False Positives

Another important issue to consider is the proper calibration of the breath test machine. Poor calibration is a potential cause of higher BAC readings and hence false positives.

Contaminants in the Mouth Can Alter Results

If a person has any residual alcohol in the mouth, this can cause high BAC readings. If you wear bridges or dentures, there may be alcohol lingering on those dental appliances. Different kinds of mouthwash, cold medication, and cough syrup can also skew results in an unfavorable way. The breath test results can even be affected by belching, hiccuping, or vomiting.

The Problem of Acetone

Acetone is a substance that naturally occurs in the human body, and the presence of it on the breath can lead to bad breath test results. Diabetics produce more acetone than non-diabetics, and different kinds of diets and medications can similarly impact acetone levels.

Strength of the Exhale Can Affect Readings

When taking a breath test, it's important that a person exhale normally. If they are instructed to blow hard into the breath machine, it can alter the readings and results. This combined with any of the above factors could make a major difference with regard to your BAC.

Speak with the Team at The Law Offices of Jason Trumpler, P.C.

For more information about your legal rights following a drunk driving stop, it's important that you

contact our drunk driving defense team today. We at The Law Offices of Jason Trumpler, P.C. will fight diligently for you and your legal entitlements.

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