Are DWI breath tests accurate?
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Are DWI breath tests accurate?

| May 1, 2020 | DWI

A typical DWI arrest often goes like this: The officer sees a reason to stop your car and pulls you over because they have reason to suspect that you are intoxicated, e.g., swerving or driving too slowly. They ask you to perform some field sobriety tests. If you fail them, they take you back to the station and give you a breath test. While you can get a DWI with a low blood alcohol concentration (BAC), they’re generally looking to see if you are over .07%. If you are, that’s when you find yourself facing charges for impaired driving.

In court, the judge may act like the results of the breath test seal your fate. The legal limit is .08%. If your test showed .09%, they assume you were impaired. Is that the end of it?

Not always. One thing to question is the accuracy of the breath test. Medical experts warn that blood and urine tests are more accurate. That alone raises some questions about the reliability of breath tests and how much weight they should carry, especially in cases where a person’s BAC is fairly close to the legal limit.

There are also other important questions to ask. How old was the device? When was it last calibrated? Was it an approved model? Did the officer conduct the test correctly? Was that officer trained on how to use the test before giving it to you? Were there any other factors, like alcohol in your mouth from a strong mouthwash, that could have raised your reading?

Don’t assume that the breath test is the end of the line. Make sure you are well aware of the defense options that you have moving forward.