What exactly is a Breathalyzer test and is it always accurate?

Those in West Virginia and elsewhere, who have ever been pulled over for suspected DUI may be somewhat familiar with the different tests authorities use to test for impairment. One that is most commonly used is a Breathalyzer test. While police depend on these machines, it is important for those accused of DUI to understand that the results of such tests may not always be accurate.

Before going further, it is helpful to have a brief understanding as to how these machines function. When a person is stopped by police for suspected impairment, they will likely be asked to submit to a breath test. The devices which are used analyze the light waves that are believed to be absorbed in alcohol vapors. The information gathered is then translated into a blood-alcohol percentage.

While breath tests are convenient and less invasive than blood testing, there are a number of things that can lead to accuracy issues. These things include the use of certain medications, medical conditions, mouthwashes and even completed dental work -- among various others. There are studies that have shown that the results of breath tests can vary as much as 15 percent from a reading obtained by testing a blood sample. Knowing this, if charged with a DUI, questioning the results of a breath test would be completely reasonable.

Accusations of impaired driving are taken seriously in West Virginia. As such, the consequences of a DUI conviction can take a significant toll on a person's home and work life. Questioning the accuracy of a Breathalyzer test -- if used -- is simply part of a strong criminal defense, and may be the key to successfully resolving some cases of alleged impaired driving.

Source: FindLaw, "BAC Test FAQs", Accessed on July 12, 2015

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