If you have been pulled taken a breathalyzer that indicated that you were above the legal limit, you may think that is the end of the line. This is not necessarily true, however. In Texas, as in all other states, if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or more, it is illegal for you to drive. If your test comes back at or above this level, you can be arrested, but this does not mean that you cannot fight the charges – and even beat them.
Misleading BAC Readings
The consequences of a DUI conviction in Texas are far too significant to ignore a false or misleading accusation. Even if your breath test comes back with an incriminating number, it is your right to fight the accusation. And the fact is that breath tests are not always accurate.
For a breath-testing machine to accurately measure a person's BAC, it has to properly calibrated. If you have ever stepped on a faulty scale, you understand this reasoning. You did not simply gain or lose 20 pounds out of nowhere; the scale is incorrectly calibrated. Breathalyzers also need calibration. Improper calibration can drastically alter a reading.
There are many different kinds of breathalyzer tests with many different levels of quality. While a less expensive machine that uses tin oxide or semiconductor sensor technology is likely fine for home use, it is not adequate to confirm charges brought against a defendant who faces considerable legal and collateral consequences. If the officer who stopped you used a less reliable breathalyzer machine, your reading may not have been accurate and can be contested.
Breath machines cannot distinguish between mouthwash and a stiff cocktail. In fact, these tests’ accuracy can be thrown off by a number of variables, including:
- Medications such as cough syrup
- Hairspray and other aerosols
- Particles released in an airbag deployment
- Certain health conditions such as diabetes or conditions that affect the lungs
If your BAC reading comes back high, it is not necessarily an accurate reflection of your blood alcohol content.
Like any test, the breathalyzer must be administered correctly to provide accurate results. If the officer administering your test does not follow the proper protocol, the results may be inadmissible. For example, the test’s mouthpiece must be changed every time it is used, and if it is not, it can affect the second driver’s reading.