The Accuracy of a Preliminary Breath Test Isn’t Guaranteed

Drivers here in Florida and across the country are given the impression that breath tests administered on the side of the road are an accurate way of determining whether someone is drunk. These tests provide police officers with the probable cause they need to make a DUI arrest. Many people may even decide not to fight the charges since the preliminary breath test indicated that their blood alcohol concentration was at or above the state’s legal limit of .08.

Perhaps you had a couple of drinks on your way home from work, but you never considered that you were too impaired to drive. You felt fine, but ended up getting pulled over for speeding or something else, and the officer suspected you of being impaired. After the preliminary breath test, he or she took you into custody on suspicion of DUI.

How Could You Have Failed the Breath Test?

Even though the technology behind those roadside breath testing machines has improved, you could still fail a breath test due to one of the following issues that has nothing to do with the amount of alcohol you did or didn’t drink:

  • Preliminary breath testing machines use software just like many other electronic devices, which makes them susceptible to glitches and bugs.
  • These machines also require calibration on a regular basis to ensure they work properly.
  • Officers require training in order to operate these devices properly. Even so, they could make mistakes that create false results.
  • Multiple tests are supposed to be run in order to obtain a reliable result. If the officer skips this step, it could put the results into question.
  • Foreign substances and environmental factors could also affect the results. Mouthwash, paint fumes, and a multitude of other substances you ingest or are around could make it difficult to obtain an accurate result.

In fact, certain medical conditions or diets could also cause the results of preliminary breath tests to show that you are intoxicated even if you aren’t. Simply accepting your fate and pleading guilty to a DUI charge based on this test could be a mistake that could affect the rest of your life.

How Can You Challenge the Results?

You have the right to challenge the DUI charge, and attacking the results of the preliminary breath test is one way to do that. If it turns out the results can’t be trusted, it could put the probable cause the officer believed he or she had into question. Investigating the circumstances surrounding your traffic stop and arrest could reveal a flaw that may substantially affect the outcome of your case.


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