Police officers often try to collect several kinds of evidence when they suspect someone of impaired driving. There could be video footage or an officer’s testimony about a driver’s performance at the wheel or how they handled a field sobriety test, as well as chemical breath test results.
Many people see chemical breath test results as the most conclusive evidence of chemical impairment and possibly a guarantee of a criminal conviction for a drunk driving offense. Despite how much faith many members of the public place in roadside chemical testing, there is plenty of evidence that these testing systems often return unreliable results. Some people even successfully challenge the inclusion of breath test results in their court proceedings.
What scenarios might lead to inaccurate breath test results and give you grounds to challenge the chemical evidence against you?
Using an improperly-maintained device for testing
The police department that owns the chemical testing units will have to maintain a thorough record of how they maintain each individual test unit. Frequent calibrations are necessary to ensure accurate test results. There may also be mechanical maintenance required or software upgrades that affect the accuracy of test results.
Performing a test after ingesting other substances
Multiple products you might use in your daily life could affect the accuracy of a chemical breath test. For example, mouthwash or a breath freshener spray could trigger a false positive on a chemical breath test even if someone hasn’t had any alcohol to drink. Even certain medications could trigger a positive test result, like using an asthma inhaler shortly before performing the test.
Failing to account for medical issues
Did you know that diabetic people can sometimes go into a state of ketoacidosis if they don’t successfully control their blood sugar? Part of what happens to the body in that state is that it begins to excrete acetone through the lungs.
Those acetone molecules could potentially trigger the test and lead to someone getting arrested when they haven’t had anything to drink. In fact, even those who followed keto diets could be at risk for a failed test.
Recognizing that chemical breath tests are not infallible might give you the courage you need to fight back against your pending drunk driving charges.