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DWI defense: Understanding a Breathalyzer

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2018 | DWI

If you go out to have drinks with friends, then you’re probably familiar with when you begin to feel tipsy or when you’ve had too much to drink. Any time you’re impaired, it’s a bad idea to get behind the wheel of a car, since you could face a DWI. However, the last time you went out, you didn’t feel the effects of alcohol as much as usual. You felt fine enough to drive.

When the officer pulled you over, it wasn’t long until he used a Breathalyzer on you. It came back with different readings each time, one at .07, another at .09 and one at .04. Based on what he saw, he placed you under arrest, but was that really fair?

Breathalyzer calibration

One thing to keep in mind is that all Breathalyzers must be calibrated. This is a process during which a trained technician tests and adjusts a Breathalyzer to make sure it is performing accurately.

Calibration is something that has to take place regularly. If the device isn’t calibrated or isn’t calibrated properly, there is a risk of it drifting higher or lower. This means that it could give a reading that just isn’t accurate.

When calibrated correctly, Breathalyzers are precise and give readings that the court may use to hold you accountable for drinking and driving. If you can show that the device was not calibrated correctly or was not recently calibrated, then there is a potential that you could have the results of the test restricted from the court, helping you defend your case.

One sign that the Breathalyzer needs to be calibrated is if the results come back significantly different each time. A significant difference is usually anything over .02 percent. If the results vary beyond that, there is a higher likelihood that the device is broken, not calibrated properly or that it is not being used by the officer correctly.

With a breath test providing some of the only measured evidence for the prosecution, it will be harder to prosecute you without that evidence admitted into the court. Getting this evidence withheld is one of the primary ways to defend yourself from a DUI and something you should discuss with your attorney. If this isn’t an option, there are still a number of other ways to fight the charges and to work with the prosecution to lower the charges or have them dismissed.