Why Failing a Breathalyzer Test Does Not Always Mean a Conviction


When a police officer stops you based on suspicion of DUI, taking a breathalyzer test is typically part of the process. You comply, as Colorado law likely requires you to submit to chemical testing in this situation. Your test results exceed the legal limit of 0.08 blood alcohol concentration. Now what?

At this point, many people decide their case is not worth fighting. However, a DUI conviction can have some serious consequences. In fact, a breathalyzer test result may not always be the bulletproof piece of evidence people think it is. An experienced attorney can identify weaknesses in the case against you and develop a targeted strategy.

How the breath test works

When you blow into the mouthpiece, the breathalyzer determines the percentage of alcohol in your breath. From there, it extrapolates the percentage of alcohol in your bloodstream. Because a breathalyzer test is based on a chemical process rather than a particular officer’s subjective perception, one tends to think of the results as solidly objective.

Breathalyzers do not always work correctly

Like any other piece of machinery, breathalyzers can malfunction if they do not receive proper maintenance. In addition, operating instructions typically direct users to calibrate the unit regularly. Breathalyzers may also suffer from design or manufacturing defects that can yield incorrect results.

Medical conditions

Even if the breathalyzer works properly, several factors can cause falsely high readings. Medical conditions that produce ketosis can lead to acetones in the breath being read as alcohol; examples include poorly controlled diabetes and even some extremely low-carb diets.

Mouth alcohol

The breathalyzer operates on the presumption that any alcohol in your breath comes from your bloodstream. However, alcohol retained in your mouth can significantly increase the reading. You can retain amounts that produce this result even after consuming less than one drink, especially if you have dental work that can cause liquid to pool.

Your BAC may not be the sole factor in your arrest

Of course, if a breathalyzer test shows a reading of lower than 0.08, that does not mean you are out of the woods either. You may still face charges if officers observe other signs of impairment. If you are dealing with DUI charges, consulting an attorney promptly can help you understand your options.