DUI Essentials Breathalyzers Accurate or Not

If you happen to be pulled over for a DUI, chances are you'll be asked to take a Breathalyzer test. There have been many studies that have shown them to be innacurate, regardless if you refuse the test in many states you could have your license suspended. Given the fairly inaccurate results, and the incredibly negative consequences of being convicted of false DUI it would seem there should be a greater public awareness of these issues. Breathalyzers do not measure alcohol concentration directly, as does a blood test. Rather, they test for alcohol levels indirectly, by analyzing the chemical components in the breath of a suspected drunk-driver.

One problem then, is it really identifying alcohol and properly measuring the concentration? Most machines detect and measure ethyl compounds in the mouth and assume these compounds to be alcohol. False positives can be produced, especially in older breathalyzer models, when chemicals with similar structures of ethyl alcohol are mistakenly identified as alcohol. There have been cases of people who have absorbed the fumes of paints or gasoline, such as painting a room over a day, and gotten a false positive. There have also been studies that have shown that the the yeast in bread and smoke from cigarrettes are more likely to exaggerate results. Some studies have shown that diabetics have triggered false positives because of their acetone levels which is a result of their low blood sugar. Dieters and fasters have faced similar results.

Some of these problems have been alleviated because of newer models of the breathalyzers, but no machine yet has proven failsafe. Another potential issue with breathalyzer tests is the timing of the test. If you test a driver too early, you can get a false result.

Because of the time needed to absorb alcohol it takes a while for the body to absorb the alcohol completely. The results can be artificially high based upon the higher levels of alcohol in the arterial blood that is measured by the breathalyzer. The lungs use the arterial blood, and that is what shows up on the breathalyzer test. Because of this, the levels of alcohol might show up in a breathalyzer and yet the more accurate blood test will show much lower levels, because of the nature of how alcohol is absorbed. For a driver suspected of DUI, the results of a breathalyzer test can be life-changing.

It is imperative to remember that these tests are not infallible, and that false positives do occur. A qualified DUI attorney can help someone determine whether or not their breathalyzer results are accurate and were obtained in a legal manner. Important decisions rest on the results of such tests, so it is equally as important to question their validity and accuracy.

L. Lee Lockett is a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney specializing in the defense of DUI cases througout the Jacksonville, FL area. For a free consultation on your Jacksonville DUI case, visit our website

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