Can breath tests be inaccurate?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | Drunk Driving

Breath tests are one way people determine blood alcohol content, or BAC, levels. Officers usually use them in situations such as traffic stops.

However, these tests can sometimes give inaccurate results. Several factors contribute to these inaccuracies.

Poorly-maintained equipment

One factor is the calibration and maintenance of the testing equipment. Like any other measurement device, breath tests require the right calibration to make sure they give correct results.

If officers do not take care of these items, they may produce unreliable results, which can lead to incorrect conclusions about an individual’s level of intoxication.

Variability in breath alcohol concentration

Another challenge is how much breath alcohol concentration can vary among individuals. Factors such as metabolism and what a person ate recently can influence these levels.

As a result, two people with the same BAC may end up with different breath test results. This makes it difficult to accurately know a person’s intoxication level based on only this test.

Breathing patterns

The way a person breathes can also impact the accuracy of breath tests. Shallow or irregular breathing patterns may affect the volume of air exhaled. This may lead to overestimation of BAC levels. Also, respiratory diseases or disorders can further complicate breath test results.

Environmental factors

Temperature and humidity can also influence breath test results. Extreme temperatures or high humidity levels may hurt the stability of the chemical reactions involved in this test. This means an officer could get inaccurate readings.

While breath tests can provide some valuable information, they have many obvious limitations. It is important to approach these tests with caution if a person is facing a DWI or DUI charge.

Watch how we can help you with your legal situation


Do You Have a Defense?

Do You Have a Defense?

Avvo Clients' Choice 2018 Criminal Defense    Avvo Clients' Choice 2018 Criminal Defense

Charles Waechter | Premium
FindLaw Network