February 4, 2014

Breathalyzer Calibrations—Were Your Results Accurate?

Like your computer, cell phone, or other gadget, a breathalyzer is a technological device that can have glitches or improper results if not used or functioning properly. Most DUI defendants do not have a comprehensive understanding of how a breathalyzer works and therefore they may not realize that results can be wrong—and challenged in court. If you were given a breathalyzer test and are facing DUI charges, remember that you do have the opportunity to challenge the evidence presented against you.

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Breathalyzer function and calibration can be critical points of interest in DUI defense. Our DUI defense attorneys are experienced in challenging breathalyzer and blood-alcohol levels in court. In addition to reviewing evidence surrounding your arrest we will also investigate arresting officers and equipment to ensure that any blood alcohol test results were legally obtained and accurate.

Law enforcement officers must be properly trained in the administration of a breathalyzer exam. To ensure accurate results, all breathalyzers must be properly calibrated to ensure accurate results. The process of calibration involves checking and adjusting the accuracy of a unit and must be performed periodically to ensure accurate readings.

Even though many breathalyzers are calibrated by manufacturers or “pre-calibrated” they must be routinely calibrated after purchased. Depending on the manufacturing and usage, breathalyzers need to be calibrated every six months. Administering a breathalyzer also requires that a subject wait at least 15 to 20 minutes after eating or drinking. Blowing into a tester immediately can damage the sensor and require immediate calibration.

Tests should be performed by law enforcement agencies to ensure that machines are working properly. With a limited number of breathalyzers throughout the state, many agencies can put off proper calibration leading to inaccurate results. All of the information on calibration must be maintained by prosecution and should be reviewed by an experienced attorney. Lack of calibration is grounds to invalidate the readings on your breathalyzer exam.

To calibrate a breathalyzer, solutions are introduced to the machine at certain levels. If the readings match the levels of alcohol introduced, then they are a match. If not, the machine needs to be calibrated. The results do not have to be exactly the levels of ethyl alcohol contained in the solution, but they should be within .05% of solution levels.

In addition to improper calibration there are other reasons that a reading may be faulty. Improper administration, patterns of breathing, diabetic miscalculations, “mouth” residue and environmental factors can all influence the levels of alcohol that turn up on your breathalyzer. If you suspect an inaccurate BAC reading you should consult with an experienced drunk driving defense attorney.

After a DUI arrest, you could face serious and penalties and charges upon conviction including loss of license, jail time, and a longstanding criminal record. To protect your rights, all elements of your case should be reviewed, including the circumstances of your arrest and evidence presented against you, including field sobriety or breathalyzer results. Working with an experienced advocate who understands how a breathalyzer works gives you leverage and helps you protect your rights.


Call Birmingham DUI Defense Lawyer Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

New DUI Defense: Too Drunk to be Prosecuted? Oct. 12, 2013, Birmingham Underage DUI Defense Lawyer Blog

Alabama Marijuana DUI Will Be Difficult for Cops to Prove, Sept. 2, 2013, Birmingham DUI Defense Attorney Blog