Factors that can impact Breathalyzer accuracy

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2017 | Drunk Driving |

If a law enforcement official pulls you over in Michigan and believes you are under the influence of alcohol, you can expect that he or she will ask you to submit to a breath test using a device called a Breathalyzer. To ensure accurate readings, Breathalyzers must undergo regular calibration and maintenance, and this is due in part to the fact that the device essentially estimates your blood alcohol content as opposed to giving you a definitive reading.

Because the penalties associated with drinking and driving can prove so severe, it is critical that the device used to assess your level of impairment is accurate. There are, however, several things that can impact the accuracy of a Breathalyzer. These include:

Electronic interference

It may sound odd, but if a cellphone tower or a radio within the police cruiser emits radio waves near your test site, this has the potential to throw off the results of your test. Electronic interference may even make your Breathalyzer show a higher level of alcohol in your body than is accurate.


If your blood alcohol level is above the legal limit and you also suffer from diabetes, your condition may have something to do with it. Diabetics sometimes have heightened levels of acetone on their breath, and this may lead the testing device to think you have consumed alcohol when you actually have not or when you have had only a small amount to drink that would not otherwise place you past the legal limit.


If you are to vomit before taking your breath test, this, too, can impact its results and affect overall accuracy. Generally, law enforcement officials are aware of this, and they know to wait a certain amount of time before testing you again to boost the chances of an accurate reading.

If you receive a drinking and driving charge and you feel as if your breath test results were inaccurate, an attorney may be able to secure calibration records and similar documentation to help argue your case.


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