man in driver's seat blowing into breathalyzer

3 Things That Can Make Breath Test Results Inaccurate

Breath and blood tests are known for being the most reliable methods for evaluating a driver’s sobriety. However, many people are unaware of the non-alcohol-related factors that can affect BAC. We’ve put together a list of three things that can affect the accuracy of breathalyzer test results.

1. Health Conditions

Certain medical conditions can cause ‘false positives’ for drivers taking breath tests.
Some of the medical conditions that can alter BAC results include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Acid reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Diabetes (ketosis)
  • Hypoglycemia

In fact, the way you eat can also impact your BAC score. This is true for high-protein diets or fasting.

2. Mouth Alcohol

Mouth alcohol refers to a small bit of residual alcohol that can remain in your mouth or throat, thus impacting your BAC score when you blow into a breathalyzer.
There may be a high concentration of alcohol in your mouth due to:

  • Recent burping: police are instructed to observe individuals for 15 minutes before administering a breath test to ensure that the driver does not burp or vomit.
  • Reflux conditions: reflux occurs when contents of the stomach travel back up through the esophagus. This means that previously consumed alcohol may travel back up the track and affect BAC results.
  • Dental products: products like mouthwash and breath spray contain alcohol, but not the kind you drink. Breathalyzers, however, detect ethanol and are unable to distinguish between types of alcohol.
  • Braces: anyone who has had or currently has braces knows how easy it is for food to get stuck within the small wires. Alcohol absorbed in food and stuck in the crevices of your braces can skew the results of a breath test.

If you failed a breath test and believe mouth alcohol was a contributing factor, you can challenge the results.

3. Device Malfunctions

Technology is not foolproof; like all devices, breathalyzers can malfunction. Law enforcement must ensure that their breathalyzers are in proper working order, which involves regular cleaning, inspections, calibration, and maintenance. A defective or malfunctioning device can misread an individual’s BAC score.

Police officers are trained on how to use breathalyzers. Still, human error accounts for many breathalyzer inaccuracies.
This may occur due to:

  • Improper administration of the breath test
  • Only requiring the subject to take one breath test
  • Misreading BAC results
  • Writing an inaccurate BAC score on the official report

Western Tennessee DUI Attorneys

Huffman Mason, PLLC can help you fight your DUI charges even if your breath test showed you were over the legal limit. Numerous factors could have led to that inaccurate result, and we can get to the bottom of it. Contact us today to get started with an initial case consultation so we can advise you on your best course of action.