Breathalyzer tests can lead to criminal charges for drunk driving which can monumentally change an accused driver’s life in an instant. Breathalyzer tests may not always be reliable, however, and there may be options available to challenge them that accused drivers should be aware of.
Reliability of breath tests
Breath tests have been thrown out because of human errors and poor government oversight in two states. A total of 30,000 breath tests were thrown out during a 12-month period alone because they were considered unreliable. In addition, thousands of breath tests have been invalidated across the country in recent years. When the machines are not properly calibrated, they can yield inaccurate results which may be as much as 40% too high. Local law enforcement tasked with maintaining the tests may poor standards or lack expertise to properly maintain the equipment. Others may have software problems.
The potential problems with the reliability of breath tests has been described as a nationwide problem. Most states have penalties associated with refusal to take a breathalyzer test. Because these tests cannot always withstand scrutiny, and because of the criminal justice system’s reliance on them, their use can potentially lead to wrongful convictions.
It is important to know how to challenge a bad breath test before it gets that far and for accused drivers to generally be familiar with the criminal defense protections available to them. Armed with that knowledge, accused drivers can better protect themselves and their rights when faced with drunk driving charges.