Texas Breath Test Devices May Yield Inaccurate Results

Breath test devices may not always provide accurate and reliable blood alcohol content readings, which may lead to false DUI charges and convictions.

While it isn't illegal for Texas residents to enjoy a few drinks with dinner, it is against the law for them to climb behind the wheel of a vehicle after doing so. In 2013, nearly 100,000 people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Texas, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Just over 71,000 people were actually convicted of a DWI, or driving while intoxicated. Breath test devices are a tool law enforcement officers use to determine whether or not a driver is intoxicated. Yet, intriguing evidence shows that these devices are not always reliable, and may provide inaccurate blood alcohol content readings.

the facts

Breath test analyzers calculate a person's blood alcohol content level indirectly through use of a breath sample. The machine detects the amount of alcohol that is present in the suspect's breath and then converts that number into a blood alcohol content level. Research published by the State University of New York at Potsdam indicates that the results given from breath test devices vary by at least 15 percent from the results obtained through actual blood tests. That means one in every four people that have their BAC analyzed using a breath test device will have results that are higher than their actual blood alcohol content level. In some cases, these inaccurate BAC readings may lead to a wrongful drunk driving charge and conviction.

analyzing the breath test device

There are several reasons why breath test devices are prone to give inaccurate results, according to the State University of New York at Potsdam. Hand-held devices must be regularly and properly calibrated to ensure that they will give accurate results in the environment in which they are being used. Variations in temperature and humidity can affect breath test results. Tobacco smoke, dirt and other elements in the air can also cause false BAC readings.

Drivers who are exposed to certain chemicals or fumes prior to taking a breath test may have a false BAC reading as well. A man wearing a protective mask spent an hour painting a wall with a gallon of oil-based paint, and saturating a piece of wood with a pint of contact cement. Although the man was alcohol-free when he started the activity, a breath test measured his BAC at 0.12 percent twenty minutes after he finished painting. At this level, the man would be considered significantly intoxicated, as the legal limit is 0.08 percent in Texas.

finding legal help

A DUI can impact your life in many ways. Not only are convicted DUI offenders in Texas required to pay hefty fines, they might also have trouble finding employment in certain industries or obtaining a professional license. If you have been charged with a DUI, you may want to seek counsel from a knowledgeable criminal attorney. A lawyer may help to explore all of your legal options and ensure that your rights are upheld in a Texas court of law.

Keywords: breath test, DUI, drunk driving, arrest