Breathalyzers and Blood Alcohol Content
By: Mary Ann Gorman
Although people use the phrases "breathalyzer" and "blood alcohol content" interchangeably, there is a very important difference between the two terms. A breathalyzer doesn't read your BAC, but rather estimates it.
Breathalyzer test results can be far from 100% accurate and may be challenged in a DUI defense case.
Facts: It's illegal in all states to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or greater. Following a DUI conviction, you may face many certain fines and penalties, such as license suspension, probation a prison term.
If you've been arrested for drinking and driving, talk to a lawyer today.
Your BAC may be tested several ways. The breath test is the most common way to estimate BAC.
Many police departments use portable breathalyzer testing devices to determine BAC. But some states don't allow test results from these portable breathalyzers, using larger machines that are generally considered more accurate.
A urine test may also be used to estimate BAC.
While many states rely solely on breath or urine tests to estimate BAC, a blood test is generally the most reliable way to get an accurate result.
A DUI lawyer can help you determine if you can challenge your breath or blood test as a DUI defense.
Common Problems with Breathalyzer Tests in DUI Cases
Several problems exist with breathalyzers that could result in an inaccurate estimation:
- Breathalyzers assume a specific ratio between BAC and breath alcohol content to make estimations. This 2100:1 ratio may actually range between 1700:1 and 2400:1. If a breathalyzer reads a person's BAC at .08%, their actual BAC could be between .065% and .09% - variation that could mean all the difference in a DUI case. Urine tests also make estimations based on an assumed ratio of 1.3:1, which may not apply for every person.
- Breathalyzer machines are often confused by other substances that throw off BAC estimations. A breathalyzer machine tests for ethyl alcohol (ethanol) from alcoholic substances. It may misread many other substances in the human breath as alcohol content. Some breathalyzers become confused by acetone, which may be present in large amounts in diabetics and people with special diets. Breathalyzers have also been confused by fumes coming from certain paints and adhesives.
BAC, Breathalyzers and DUI Law
If you've been charged with a DUI based on a breathalyzer or urine test, a DUI lawyer may be able to help you challenge those results - even if you allegedly failed a breathalyzer, blood or urine test.
Call 877-349-1311 to schedule a free consultation with a local DUI attorney today. Get legal advice on how to handle your DUI case and how your state's drinking and driving laws may affect your DUI case.
Note: The above summary is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. For the latest information on breathalyzer and BAC issues, speak to a DUI attorney in your area.