Breathalyzer Tests Are Not Always as Accurate as the Virginia Police Lead You to Believe

After a driver in Virginia has been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the arresting officer has to administer what is technically known as a preliminary breath test (or what most people call a “breathalyzer”). Most drivers are unaware, however, that “breathalyzers” come in many makes and models, some of which are more reliable than others, and have to be routinely calibrated and maintained to produce accurate results. That's why, if you are being prosecuted for DUI, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer from Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC.

A Breathalyzer Test is Not Conclusive Proof of DUI

If you've never been charged with DUI before, you may not be familiar with the protocol that has to be followed by the arresting officer—and you may be confused by the difference between the preliminary “breathalyzer” test and the blood-alcohol test that you are required to take at police headquarters. The breathalyzers used by Virginia police don't directly measure a person's blood-alcohol (BAC) level; rather, they estimate this figure from the amount of alcohol in the individual's breath. Various factors can affect a breathalyzer reading, including:

  • Local temperature, humidity, and pollution conditions
  • The suspect's temperature, metabolic rate, and breathing patterns
  • Whether or not the test device is properly calibrated
  • Whether or not the test device has been recalibrated after use on a prior DUI suspect

Even if a breathalyzer test indicates that you have a BAC of 0.08 percent or more (the minimum for adult drivers in the state of Virginia), that's not enough evidence to book you officially on a DUI charge. The blood-alcohol test administered at police headquarters is much more accurate, but not entirely free of the problems plaguing breathalyzers (for example, these more sophisticated devices must also be properly maintained, or their readings are useless).

Did the Police Botch Your Breathalyzer Test? Our Law Firm Can Help

At Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC, we closely examine every piece of evidence involved in your DUI arrest. Was the police officer who administered your breathalyzer test properly trained? Did he read the results correctly? Had he used the breathalyzer on another suspect shortly before your arrest? The answers to these important questions can mean the difference between a DUI conviction and a dismissal of all charges. Call today for a free consultation!