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Were your breath test results inaccurate?

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, chances are very good that you were given a breath test to measure your blood alcohol content indirectly. In many cases, this is the only test given, although it is supposed to be confirmed by a larger unit at the police station after your arrest. Officers have the option to ask for blood or urine as well, but many do not. As a result, there is very often little confirmation of the breath test's accuracy, and that can lead to innocent drivers being accused of DUI.

How breath test becomes inaccurate

There is a number of ways that breath tests can be inaccurate:

  • When the officer does not calibrate the equipment properly or administer the test completely
  • When the driver's breath is compromised by a substance that creates a false positive
  • When the driver's breath reads high, but the driver is actually sober due to blood chemistry

Usually, if it is one of the first two items, the confirmation at the police station can catch it. In extreme cases, medical conditions can create contaminants that even those sensitive machines cannot detect around.

Mostly, though, inaccurate breath test results happen because of one physical factor that can be an Achilles heel for both the smaller field units and the larger units kept at police stations: your blood volume, or hematocrit, levels.

The importance of hematocrit

Testing for blood alcohol involves making an assumption about the volume of red blood cells in your blood, which can vary widely. If you are a person whose hematocrit levels are very far from the baseline that the test assumes, then any breath test you are given will be wildly inaccurate, no matter how sensitive the equipment is. It could be calibrated to work for you, but for that to happen, the officer would have to be able to know your hematocrit level and adjust the machine before the first test. There is no way to extrapolate it after.

If you get arrested for DUI

The best thing you can do is contact an attorney right away. DUI defense is not easy, but an experienced attorney will know the available options. That way, you will be able to make a wise choice about how to challenge the charges.

Do not waste time. Call an attorney as soon as you can if you have been charged with DUI, and make sure your rights are fully protected.

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