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Unreliability of Breathalyzer Sobriety Tests for DUI in Virginia

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You have been arrested for driving under the influence, and a "Breathalyzer" test result indicated that you are legally drunk. But how reliable are Breathalyzer test readings anyway? There are a variety of factors which may cast doubt on these test results.

Machine Calibration

The Breathalyzer machine may be calibrated improperly. Many machines calculate the amount of alcohol in a person's blood relative to how much is in their breath at a ratio of 2200. But in reality, that ratio can range anywhere from 1100 to 3200 - which may cause an inaccurate test result.

Residual Alcohol in Your Mouth

The Breathalyzer test is supposed to measure the amount of alcohol in your lungs. But if alcohol is present in your saliva, food trapped between your teeth, or elsewhere in your mouth, it could inaccurately increase the machine's reading.

Other Chemical Compounds in your Mouth

Similarly, other chemical compounds in your mouth might inflate a result from a Breathalyzer test. That's because these machines do not specifically detect ethyl alcohol, but rather the methyl part of a molecule which is present in alcohol - and in other substances as well.

Breath Temperature

Breathalyzer machines assume that the temperature of your mouth is 34 degrees Celsius. But studies have shown that individuals arrested for DUI who were tested on the machine had actual breath temperatures between 34 and 37 degrees - which would also influence the test result.

Belching, Hiccupping, or Vomiting

Because it will skew a test result, police officials are required to make sure that you do not take a Breathalyzer test within 20 minutes of belching, hiccupping, or vomiting. If this procedure is not followed, your test results could be thrown out during your DUI trial.

Alcohol Absorption Rates

The Breathalyzer test assumes that your body is "post-absorptive" - meaning that you are done absorbing alcohol into your blood. But if you have a slow metabolism, you may still be absorbing the alcohol, and the test outcome would show a higher-than-accurate reading.

For more information on Virginia DUI arrests, visit our library. 

Virginia DUI attorney Bob Battle aggressively defends those charged with a DUI. For proven legal help with your Virginia DUI case, contact Bob Battle to schedule your legal consultation today at 804-673-5600.

Bob Battle
100% of my practice is devoted to serious traffic defense and criminal litigation in state and federal courts
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