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Factors that impact the accuracy of a breath test

If you have ever been pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, you may have been asked to take a breath test. Typically administered by having you blow into a breathalyzer, which is an instrument used to determine your blood-alcohol content, the breath test gives law enforcement an idea of whether you consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel, and if so, how much. While breathalyzers are believed by many to be highly accurate, they are not fool- proof, and breathalyzer errors have been known to occur. Given how high the stakes and how harsh the punishments are if you end up facing a charge of driving under the influence, it is important to understand the variables that may impact the accuracy of your breath test.

Certain dietary or health conditions, including diabetes

Certain health conditions can trigger a breathalyzer to say you are intoxicated when, in fact, you are not. For example, if a diabetic driver is experiencing hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, this has a tendency to affect him or her in the same manner as alcohol. If a diabetic has ketosis, this can also lead to a false-positive breathalyzer reading. Some studies have also indicated a connection between low-carb, high-protein diets and false-positive breathalyzer readings.

A defective or improperly used device

Most challenges to breathalyzer readings involve defective or improperly used devices. The devices must be regularly calibrated and frequently monitored to ensure continued accuracy, and any failure to adhere to the calibration or maintenance schedule can lead to a false-positive reading and some very strict associated punishments. Furthermore, the person administering the breath test must be certified and legally able to do so.

Burping, vomiting, hiccupping, eating or smoking

Because burping, vomiting, hiccupping, eating and smoking also have the potential to affect the accuracy of a breath test, authorities are trained to closely monitor you after you are pulled over to make sure you do none of these things ahead of your test. If you do engage in any of these behaviors, the law enforcement officer must wait for a period of time, typically about 20 minutes, before he or she can again try to administer the breath test.

These are just a few of the many reasons your positive breath test reading may not be accurate. If you produced a positive breathalyzer reading and you believe it is for a reason other than consuming alcohol, you may find it beneficial to get in touch with an attorney.