Anyone in North Carolina who has gotten pulled over by law enforcement for suspected drinking and driving knows that breath alcohol test results create a basis for arrest. Breath alcohol tests involve the use of scientific devices to measure the alcohol expelled when drivers breathe out, providing an estimate known as their blood alcohol content level. Readings of 0.08% or more may result in motorists getting arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Unfortunately, these devices do not always give accurate readings, which may result in unnecessary arrests.
Standing up to false allegations of DUI may involve leaving no stone unturned, including questioning the validity of alcohol breath test results.
Numerous factors may skew the results of breath alcohol tests, potentially causing false positives for DUI. For example, the presence of certain products such as glue, gasoline, paint or paint thinner, may impact the breath alcohol test readings. Additionally, things including residual mouth alcohol, the use of mouthwash or some breath fresheners prior to testing, and drivers’ diets and ages may affect breath alcohol test results. In some cases, older drivers or those with certain medical conditions may lack the necessary breathing force to provide adequate samples.
It may seem that all law enforcement officers need to do is power up the device, hand it to drivers and ask them to provide a breath sample. However, there is much more to it than that, and mistakes during the administration of tests may result in inaccurate readings.
Highly sensitive scientific instruments, breath alcohol testing devices require regular calibration. Unfortunately, they sometimes do not get set up correctly initially or do not undergo regular checks to update their settings. According to a New York Times report, incorrectly calibrated breath test devices may give results as much as 40% too high. Additionally, software programming mistakes may give erroneous results. In such cases, motorists who do not come close to exceeding the legal BAC limit may incorrectly face criminal charges for drunk driving.