Can I challenge a breathalyzer test?

The majority of DUI cases revolve around breathalyzer results. The breathalyzer is how the police determine your blood alcohol concentration in many instances.

However, just like any machine, a breathalyzer can produce faulty readings. In addition to potential mechanical failure, the police may have used the breathalyzer illegally. According to FindLaw, the most common breathalyzer challenges address either the reliability of the machine or the training of the officer that gave the test.

What does a breathalyzer test need to be reliable?

First, the actual machine itself needs to be reliable. For example, an Ohio judge found that the brand of breathalyzer the state police were using was not scientifically accurate. In another case, a man was able to blow a “HI” reading on a breathalyzer in the courtroom for the jury. This was despite having consumed no alcohol that day. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to convince a jury that the machine itself is not reliable.

Additionally, the breathalyzer needs calibration before every use. Usually the police will provide testimony to the fact that somebody calibrated the breathalyzer. However, if the police cannot do this the court may throw out the breathalyzer results.

What training does an officer need?

In order for breathalyzer results to be reliable, the officer using the machine must understand how to operate it. Just like you can challenge a speeding ticket based on an officer’s lack of training on a radar gun, the same logic applies here.

Additionally, the police must prove that the breathalyzer test was not part of an illegal search. If the officer did not have probable cause to use the breathalyzer, it is possible that the courts will not find the breathalyzer results legal.

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