If the police pull you over after you’ve had a beer, they may ask you if you have had anything to drink. When you tell the truth, they may ask you to get out of your vehicle so that they can perform a field sobriety test.
If you are uneven on your feet or have jerky eye motions, the officer might then ask you to perform a chemical breath test. Since you know you only had one drink more than an hour ago, you may agree to take the test, confident that you’ll pass and be on your way.
Many people view chemical testing as the gold standard for criminal evidence. If you fail a breath test, you might start to question your own sobriety even though you know you weren’t drunk at the time of the traffic stop because you only had one beer. Is it possible to defend yourself against a DUI charge after you fail a chemical breath test?
Breath testing is much less reliable than the average person believes it is
Despite popular opinion about breath testing, the systems used to detect alcohol on someone’s breath are less reliable than many people realize. There are numerous ways for a breath test to produce inaccurate results.
For example, the way the test works means that it scans for an entire family of chemicals, not just alcohol. Those with certain medical conditions like asthma or diabetes could have a false positive because of blood sugar issues or an inhaler. Of course, medical issues on the part of the test taker aren’t always what cause false positives.
Breath tests can be unreliable because test administrators make mistakes. Failing to update software or properly calibrate the units can also mean having unreliable results. Major publications and courts in multiple states have started to question how reliable breath testing is for determining impairment.
Challenging a breath test could be part of your defense strategy
If the only evidence officers have against you is a failed breath test and an admission of drinking a single beer, you may have options for avoiding a conviction. Challenging chemical test results can play a role in the criminal defense strategy for someone facing an impaired driving charge.