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Columbia DUI Breathalyzer Tests

If an officer suspects that you are driving under the influence, more than likely the officer will request that you perform a breathalyzer test in order to determine your BAC level. If the results of the breathalyzer indicates that your BAC is above the legal limit, you will be arrested and charged with a DUI. If you have been charged, contact a Columbia DUI lawyer for your best chance at defeating these charges.

Common Misconceptions

Although reliable, the results of a breathalyzer may be inadmissible in court if the test is not conducted within two hours of the traffic stop. Additionally, a qualified individual must give the test at a police station or medical facility with the proper working equipment. Furthermore, a person has the right to request that an independent breathalyzer test be given in addition to the test administered by the police officer.

False Positives & Inaccuracies

Breathalyzers may result in a false positive or inaccurately high BAC scores because of GERD, acid reflux or heartburn. These conditions cause alcohol to travel from the stomach back to the throat and mouth. As such, the motorist will blow his or her mouth alcohol into the breathalyzer rather than the alcohol in his or her deep lung tissue.

Mouth alcohol could also be calculated if the motorist is not adequately observed to ensure that he or she does not burp, hiccup or vomit before the test is administered. Additionally, if a person were stopped by a police officer immediately after consuming alcohol, his or her BAC may not have risen by the time the test was performed. It can take as long as three hours for that alcohol to fully absorb in a person’s bloodstream and create peak BAC.

Machine Calibration

In order for breathalyzers to be accurate, the machine requires regular maintenance and calibration. Specifically, the machine must be on the list of acceptable devices, and the individual who administers the test must be certified. The machine must be maintained and calibrated at regular set intervals, and the individual must act in accordance with his or her training as to how to administer the test. The machine must calculate at least two measurable readings that are within 0.02 BAC of the other to ensure accuracy.

Government experts are aware of the issues with breathalyzer machines because this type of equipment is the most convenient and economically feasible method of evaluating a motorist’s BAC for officers. Additionally, use of the machine is convenient for motorists and not as intrusive as other methods.

Challenging Erroneous Results

If a motorist is able to prove that the breathalyzer machine was not properly calibrated, an attorney can subpoena the machine’s calibration and maintenance records and admit such records into evidence to show that the results are unreliable. If done properly, a judge may determine that the results are inadmissible as evidence of the motorist’s intoxication level. As such, the government would need to use other evidence, such as the motorist’s performance on the field sobriety test, watery eyes, odor of alcohol, and poor driving skills, to prove intoxication level, which is not as reliable.