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Don't hold your breath. A bad breath test doesn't guarantee guilt

Yes, you read that right. If the breath test taken by the officer on the side of the road indicates you were legally intoxicated under California law, you still have options. Even though this breath test may provide a police officer with probable cause for your arrest, it does not mean that you face an automatic conviction for driving under the influence.

Like many others, you may be under the impression that authorities have the "evidence" they need in order to substantiate a conviction, but that may not be the case. You may not realize that these roadside breath tests often come with several potential inaccuracies that invalidate the results. This is one of the primary reasons to not automatically rely on this test result and plead guilty to a DUI charge.

Why would the results be inaccurate?

Like any other technology, the accuracy of breath testing machines depends on a variety of factors. If even one of those factors is missing during your testing, the results may erroneously put you in the back of a police car. Some of the circumstances that can skew breath test results include the following:

  • As is the case with any other technological device, if the person using it does not follow the instructions, the results may not be accurate. Even with training, officers still make mistakes or fail to follow proper procedures when using breath-testing machines.
  • Breath testing machines use batteries and need calibrating from time to time. If personnel fail to calibrate the machine or make sure the batteries aren't dying, the results may be wrong.
  • If an officer happens to pull you over in an area where environmental factors such as the presence of chemicals, varnish or paint fumes are in the air, your results may be wrong.
  • Likewise, the presence of certain substances in your mouth, such as breath mints, mouthwash or other alcohol-based substances, could affect the results.
  • If the officer relies on just one test, the results could be wrong. It takes several tests to provide an accurate result.
  • The software in the machine may experience a glitch or a bug that affects its accuracy.

As you can see, so many things could go wrong. This makes these tests problematic when it comes to securing a conviction for DUI. This is why blood tests follow most DUI arrests, and the courts consider these more accurate. However, even those tests require close scrutiny because mistakes still can happen.

Get the help you need

How do you know whether your test results were inaccurate? Making that determination often requires the assistance of someone who deals with these issues on a regular basis. Even a misdemeanor DUI can have lasting effects on your personal and professional lives beyond any potential criminal penalties. Enlisting the appropriate help could make all the difference.

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