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Reasons Why Breath Tests Sometimes Fail to Give Accurate Results

You may have been out with your friends, enjoying a couple of beers with your dinner.  The night could have made a turn for the worse when you were pulled over by a Virginia police officer who suspected that you are driving under the influence.  You know that you were not intoxicated, but you still failed the breathalyzer test.  Now you are facing a DUI charge, but you still wonder, what went wrong?

There are many reasons why breath tests fail to give an accurate blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading.  If you are not aware of these causes for error, you may face an unnecessary penalty and a charge that will go on your criminal record.  Research has shown that breath tests can vary at least 15 percent from actual blood alcohol concentration.  Below are some frequent causes of false readings:

Calibration error – Most handheld breathalyzers need proper software calibration, as these devices use a silicon oxide sensor to calculate blood alcohol concentration.  The calibration process is meant to focus the sensor’s ability to detect an accurate reading.  If the devices are not calibrated, the accuracy of the sensors degrades over time.

Body still in absorption phase – The breath tester assumes that your body is past the absorption phase, meaning the breath sample came from the air exhaled from deep within your lungs. The body continues to absorb alcohol anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours after drinking.  Depending on your metabolism, the absorption phase can be even longer.  If the test is conducted during the absorption phase, the results will not be accurate. 

Belching or hiccupping – Belching or hiccupping are common sources of mouth alcohol.  When you belch or hiccup, gas from your stomach, including any alcohol, will stay in your mouth until it is dissipated.  The police officer is supposed to observe you to make sure you didn’t belch or hiccup within 15 minutes of taking the test. 

Dentures or periodontal disease – Dentures will trap alcohol and can skew the results of a breath test.  Periodontal disease often creates pockets in the gums that can hold the alcohol for long
periods.

Mouth wash or breath freshener – While many people use mouth wash or breath freshener to cover the smell of alcohol on their breath, both contain relatively high levels of alcohol and can give inaccurate BAC readings.

There are many other reasons for breath test errors.  If you are facing a DUI allegation in Virginia, you need to contact a DUI defense attorney immediately.  Contact Tavss Fletcher today for a legal consultation at (757) 625-1214.