Police officers in Collin County and throughout Texas commonly administer Breathalyzer or similar tests to motorists suspected of driving while intoxicated. It is important to understand, however, that a breath test only estimates a person’s blood-alcohol level. The most accurate way of determining blood-alcohol content is to analyze an actual blood sample, something that is obviously difficult for police officers to do on the side of a road. And while a person may be arrested and charged with a DWI based on the results of a breath test, there are many factors that may lead to a “false positive,” which can undermine the admissibility of such tests as evidence in court.
Breath Tests May Measure More Than Alcohol
Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol, a type of chemical compound classified as part of the methyl group. A breath analyzer may in fact detect dozens of non-alcoholic methyl group compounds that make a person’s blood-alcohol level seem higher than it really is. For example, some breath analyzers detect acetone, a chemical that is often produced in high concentrations by individuals suffering from diabetes.
What Is in Your Mouth?
A breath analyzer may also produce a false positive if a person has eaten or taken a single drink just before taking a breath test. For example, if you eat a dessert made with liquor, the residual alcohol may produce a breath test result that does not accurately reflect your actual blood-alcohol level. Other normal substances in your mouth, such as blood or tobacco smoke, can affect a breath analyzer as well (justifying the popularity of e juice, too). Additionally, any burping or regurgitation may also produce a false breath test reading.
Software and Design Defects
There is also the fact that a breath analyzer is a machine, and like all devices designed by humans, there may be defects that lead to inaccurate results. This is not a hypothetical concern. In 2009, Minnesota’s Supreme Court ordered the state to disclose the source code for its breath analyzer software. Analysts subsequently discovered errors that skewed the results in a number of DWI cases.
Get Help Fighting a Texas DWI Charge
The bottom line is that a breath analyzer test is far from infallible. You should never assume that failing a breath test means you will be found guilty of a DWI. Many people assume these tests are 100 percent accurate because they do not understand the underlying science and technology.
This is where an Allen DWI lawyer can prove invaluable. An experienced Allen, Texas DWI lawyer can help you—and more importantly, a jury—understand the potential problems with a breath analyzer test. A DWI conviction is a serious matter. Even a first offense can lead to a six-month jail sentence and a $2,000 fine. That is why you need an attorney who will confront all of the evidence against you, including a positive breath analyzer test result. If you have been charged with a DWI and need to speak with an Allen criminal defense attorney right away, contact the offices of Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC.