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How Accurate Are Breath Tests? Fort Lauderdale Criminal Lawyer Explores the Stats

Anyone who has been convicted of DUI in Florida knows that the consequences are severe. Nobody should have to endure the jail time, license suspension, fines and other penalties without substantial evidence that he or she was in fact breaking the law.

Digital Breath Alcohol Tester

As Florida Statues Section 316.193 explains, a person can be convicted of DUI in Florida if he or she is in actual physical control or driving a vehicle within the state and:

  • The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired;
  • The person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
  • The person has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

If Florida police charged you with DUI, turn to Leader & Leader P.A.. As your Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer, Michael D. Leader will aggressively and passionately represent your interests. He will make himself available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer your questions and provide legal guidance. Call 954-523-2020 to schedule a consultation with a DUI lawyer.

How Can Florida Law Enforcement Test a Person’s Intoxication?

There are three ways to evaluate a person’s intoxication: via the urine, blood or breath. The blood test, in theory, is the most accurate way to determine a person’s BAC; however, this is an invasive strategy that generally cannot be performed at traffic stops.

As such, police officers in Florida approved devices to conduct breath tests. These breathalyzers are lightweight, portable and easy to administer. However, they sometimes produce inaccurate results.

Why Do Breathalyzers Sometimes Produce Inaccurate Results?

Different breathalyzer designs use different types of sensors. Those that feature semiconductor sensors are prone to false positives and incorrect readings when ketones are present. These devices are also sensitive to cigarette smoke, breath acetone and hair spray.

Most police use breathalyzers with fuel cell sensors. These are more accurate than devices with semiconductor sensors.

Fuel cell sensors are most accurate when testing higher breath-alcohol levels. This is problematic because some drivers, such as minors and commercial vehicle operators, can face DUI charges for low BAC readings.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, a commercial vehicle driver can be convicted of DUI with a blood-alcohol level of “0.04 or above.” Drivers who are under the age of 21 can face consequences if their BAC is 0.02 or above.

Factors That Affect the Accuracy of Breathalyzers

As the National Motorists Association explains, several studies have concluded that breathalyzers have a margin of error of approximately 50 percent. This means that a breathalyzer can produce a reading of 0.01 if the suspect’s actual BAC is between 0.05 and 0.15.

Factors that affect the accuracy of breathalyzers include:

  • Mouthwash, breath fresheners and toothache medications;
  • Improper calibration;
  • Drained batteries;
  • Glitches or bugs in the software;
  • And improper administration of the test.

If you are facing DUI charges after failing a breath or blood test, contact a Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer from Leader & Leader P.A. to discuss your defense options. Call 954-523-2020 to schedule a consultation.




By |2016-08-10T14:33:45+00:00August 10th, 2016|Articles, Blog, Criminal Lawyer, DUI|0 Comments

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