March 11, 2022 | DUI
Suppose a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs after seeing you drive erratically. The police officer already believes you may be driving drunk or drugged in many cases. Therefore, they will request that you take a breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol level (BAC).
Drivers can refuse a roadside breathalyzer test before a DUI arrest. However, Ohio Implied Consent laws require a driver to take a breath, urine, or blood test after being arrested for drunk driving. If you refuse the breath test after a DUI arrest, you could face severe penalties, including losing your driver’s license for a minimum of one year.
You may believe that you cannot challenge the results of a Dayton breathalyzer test. However, breathalyzer tests can be wrong. Therefore, never plead guilty to DUI charges without consulting an experienced DUI defense lawyer.
Reasons Why Breathalyzer Results Could Be Wrong
A drunk driving defense lawyer investigates the circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest, including defenses to breathalyzer results.
Common reasons for challenging breathalyzer results include, but are not limited to:
Lack of Waiting Period
A police officer must monitor you continuously for 20 minutes before administering an evidentiary breathalyzer test. An evidentiary breathalyzer test is the breath test administered at the police station after your arrest.
This waiting period ensures you have not consumed anything that could result in false-positive results for a breathalyzer test. Alcohol stays on your breath for some time after you have a drink. Police procedural errors are common grounds for defenses to DUI charges.
Medical and Health Conditions
Many medical conditions can impact breathalyzer readings. Examples of medical conditions that could cause an incorrect breathalyzer result include:
- Acid Reflux Syndrome
- Gastric reflux
- Respiratory illnesses, including COPD, emphysema, asthma, and bronchitis
- Gingivitis, gum disease, and dentures
In addition to health problems, vomiting or burping during the 20 minutes before the test could cause elevated breathalyzer results.
Work conditions could result in an inaccurate breath test. Someone exposed to paint removers, cleaning fluids, gasoline, dry-cleaning fluids, adhesives, or other volatile substances could have a high breathalyzer test without being intoxicated. A person could also be exposed to volatile fumes at home or in other settings.
Use of Certain Products
Some products used for personal care contain alcohol. Likewise, some medications may contain alcohol. Using these products could impact a breath-alcohol reading.
Examples of products that could cause a false breathalyzer result include, but are not limited to:
- Prescription and over-the-counter cough and cold medications
- Wintergreen breath mints
- Chewing tobacco
- Breath fresheners
- Inhaled medications
Additionally, what you eat could result in a false breathalyzer test. For example, a strict protein diet can result in “auto-brewery” syndrome, which can cause a breath test to be inaccurate. Likewise, eating desserts containing alcohol or fermented foods could cause a false reading on a breathalyzer test.
Equipment Malfunction and Officer Error
A breathalyzer machine must be maintained and calibrated correctly. Otherwise, the test results may be erroneous.
Additionally, police officers must be trained in the proper use of the breathalyzer machine. If not, they could make the wrong reading.
Fighting the Results of a Breathalyzer Test in Dayton
The pre-arrest breath tests given by police officers at a DUI stop are not admissible as evidence of impairment. Instead, roadside breathalyzer tests are used to determine if the police officer had probable cause for an arrest.
However, the evidentiary breath test performed after your DUI arrest is admissible in court. The breathalyzer machines must be approved by the state of Ohio for the results to be admissible in court.
You can protect your right to challenge the results of a breathalyzer test by following the physical commands to get out of your vehicle when stopped by a police officer. Acting belligerent and resisting arrest make matters worse.
However, you are not required to answer questions. You can politely inform the officer that you do not want to answer questions without an attorney present. Talking to the police only provides them with more evidence to use against you during a DUI trial.
After your arrest, continue to exercise your right to remain silent except when you ask for a lawyer. You could have one or more reasons to challenge the results of a breathalyzer test.
An attorney may be able to have the breathalyzer test results thrown out if the police violated your civil rights or any number of situations apply in your case that cause the breathalyzer test to be wrong.