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Are Breathalyzer Tests Accurate?

Posted on : June 22, 2020
Springfield OUI Test

Breathalyzer tests have long been used as the “standard” for testing a person’s BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content. Allegedly, this indicates the person’s level of intoxication. But do breathalyzer tests have the potential to be inaccurate? Here’s what you should know. 

Breathalyzer Tests: The Basics

Three types of breathalyzer testing equipment are used by law enforcement and hospitals to determine Blood Alcohol Content:  infrared spectrometry, fuel cell testers, and semiconductor oxide-based testers. Fuel cell testers are the most popular among police officers and work by creating a chemical reaction with the alcohol in a person’s breath. 

This chemical reaction produces electricity, and the more alcohol in a person’s breath, the more electricity is produced, and thus the higher the reading. Semiconductor testers are better for personal use, while infrared spectrometry is more accurate but typically only used at police stations or hospitals because the devices are quite large and difficult to transport.

Can a Breathalyzer Test Result Be Inaccurate? 

Breathalyzer tests have to be administered by police by following a particular protocol. If the law enforcement officer that pulls you over does not adhere to the protocol, the test results may be wrong. Here are some other issues that can interfere with the accuracy of a breath test:

  • Drinking a reasonable amount but right before being stopped by police
  • Certain medical issues like diabetes or acid reflux that create more alcohol in the mouth than the  body
  • Working with and inhaling certain chemicals, like oil-based paint, paint thinner, and gasoline
  • The failure of the police officer to properly calibrate their breathalyzer equipment

How to Fight Breath Tests 

Breathalyzer test results may seem like irrefutable evidence, but there are many ways to argue against their validity depending on how and when they were administered. The best way to fight for your rights in an OUI case is to work with a skilled criminal defense attorney who can deconstruct the prosecution’s argument against you at every step of the way.  

Call a Western Massachusetts OUI Attorney Today  

Operating your vehicle under the influence is a serious charge in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that carries harsh penalties. If you’ve been charged with OUI, it’s important that you get legal advice as soon as you can. Your chances of a successful verdict increase with the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Call Kokonowski & Kokonowski, LLC today at 413.737.9700. 


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