If a law enforcement officer stops you on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), you can expect to take a blood or breath test.
The officer may test you using a breath analyzer. But how accurate is the device? Can you challenge the results?
About the breath test
The breath analyzer requires you to blow into it. The device then measures your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. If the results show the level to be 0.8% or higher, you face a DUI charge.
An occasional news story highlights calibration issues among breath analyzers. In 2016, a lawyer informed the Philadelphia police department that their breath tests were out of date. The police pulled every device, sent them out for recalibrating and put them back into service the same day. However, as the lawyer pointed out, the calibration issue could alter the DUI case decisions for the first half of the year. Defense attorneys could claim that results from out-of-date devices were inadmissible in court. A more recent report focused on a breath test maker in St. Louis, MO., once again because of calibration inaccuracies, which could alter the outcome of DUI cases.
Each state has its own rules concerning the frequency of breath analyzer calibration, but the process must occur at least once a year. The person who administers a breath test must also be certified to do so. In addition, the breath test must provide two readings that are within .02 of each other.
A look ahead
Do you believe your breath test results were inaccurate? You can certainly challenge those results. Your representative can subpoena the calibration records with the potential of using them as evidence in defending the DUI charge against you.