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7 Ways a Breathalyzer Can Be Wrong

Every year, thousands of people die in drunk driving accidents. It is no wonder that DUI charges are so serious. At the same time, some people take a breathalyzer test when they know they have not been drinking and end up with a positive result anyway.

People experience incredible helplessness when this happens. After all, the law enforcement officials involved probably act extremely confident about their guilt. On top of that, it is impossible to argue with a machine.

However, people often find hope when they find out that there are actually a number of known ways that breathalyzer tests can be incorrect.

So what exactly are the most common ways a breathalyzer result might be faulty? Could one of these mistakes explain your own false-positive result? Read on to learn all about the most important things to understand about how a breathalyzer test can be wrong!

1. Poor Breathalyzer Calibration

There are a couple of different ways that someone can receive a bad breathalyzer result and get a DUI charge as a result.

In some cases, people have not had very much to drink. If they have had sufficiently low quantities of alcohol, then they are actually following the law when they drive. However, a breathalyzer test might show that they have been drinking more than they really have.

On the other hand, a breathalyzer test might claim that someone has been drinking even when they have not had any alcohol in recent history. In both cases, this is potentially the result of bad calibration.

The longer machines go without proper calibration, the more commonly they start to give false results. With the support of an experienced lawyer, you might be able to discover that the breathalyzer test you were given came from a machine with outdated calibration. That can prove that the supposed evidence about your guilt is actually invalid.

2. Bad Test Solutions

Most people don’t know very much about how breathalyzers work. They imagine that they somehow just know whether or not you were ingesting alcohol in recent history. Of course, this is not how they really work.

What they really detect is certain chemical reactions that are supposed to be the result of the solutions in a breathalyzer interacting with alcohol. However, what if the chemical makeup of the solutions in the breathalyzer is incorrect?

This can lead to false-positive results and a charge for driving under the influence even when you have not been drinking excessively. In fact, some law enforcement officers end up creating homemade chemical solutions to put in breathalyzer tools.

In other cases, officers put old solutions in breathalyzer tools after they have expired. This can be the result of an oversight, or it can even be the fault of the manufacturer. With the right investigation, you might be able to show that the solution in the breathalyzer test you received possibly provided a false result.

3. Wrongly Modified Tests

Breathalyzer tools are sensitive instruments. Sometimes, law enforcement officers fiddle with them in ways that are not authorized. For example, they might turn off the part of the machine that detects the temperature of breath.

Although the machine may still output answers that claim you have been drinking excessively, that may be the result of improper modifications rather than actual excessive drinking.

4. Programming Errors

Breathalyzers are complicated instruments that use computers. These computers rely on properly functioning software to provide accurate results.

Unfortunately, software mistakes can be extremely subtle and difficult to detect. It is always possible that a machine is outputting false-positive results because the software has encountered a bug.

5. Poor Test Methodology

Breathalyzer tests are not perfectly reliable even under the best of circumstances. Many people have become more familiar with how a test can provide false positives and false negatives because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many people have also learned about how improperly providing data to a test can lead it to be more and more inaccurate. It is important to use a breathalyzer correctly in order for it to provide accurate results.

If a law enforcement officer provides you with faulty instructions for taking the breathalyzer test, it may result in a higher chance of a false positive or false negative.

That is why it is so important that law enforcement officers provide consistent and accurate instructions on how to take tests. Otherwise, the results of the tests are questionable.

6. Medical Conditions

Sometimes, you can end up with reliably false breathalyzer test results for reasons that not even most law enforcement officers don’t know about.

For example, if you have diabetes, you are more likely to give false results to a breathalyzer test. In fact, not only will your results be inaccurate, but the breathalyzer will read you as having a consistently higher blood alcohol level than you really do.

This is a serious problem that we need more sophisticated technology to handle. We cannot rely on breathalyzer tests that consistently give false readings for people who have diabetes or other medical conditions.

If you have persistent acid reflux, that can also throw off the results of a breathalyzer test in a way that can make it look like you have been drinking more than you really have been. This can be especially damaging if you have been in a car accident.

7. Other Chemicals

As we have already discussed, breathalyzer tools are sensitive. They rely on a careful combination of proper use, pristine software, and correct chemical solutions.

However, they also rely on things that are not under the control of breathalyzer designers or law enforcement officers. In some cases, breathalyzer tests are inaccurate because there are chemicals in the air while you are taking a test.

Paint fumes, gasoline, mouthwash, and more can all lead to inaccurate breathalyzer results. If you have received a faulty breathalyzer test result, the right attorney might be able to show that your supposed DWI offense may be the result of chemicals that were in the air at the time.

Understand How to Manage DUI Charges

We hope learning about how breathalyzer tests can be inaccurate has been helpful. The more you know about breathalyzer tests, the better able you will be to manage DUI charges.

To learn more about how breathalyzer tests can be inaccurate or find legal help, feel free to reach out and get in touch with us here at any time!


RHINO Lawyers can help and guide you through a system molded by law enforcement, judges, and lawyers for decades. Having won cases for our clients in similar circumstances, our criminal defense team knows what it takes to fight on your behalf.

Let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at (844) RHINO-77.