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What Can Cause a False Positive on a Breathalyzer Test?

Posted on : September 3, 2017, By:  Donald J Matson
California DUI Attorney Breathalyzer Test

Breathalyzer tests are notorious for being inaccurate.

There are multiple factors that can cause a positive breathalyzer test, leading to an arrest and a DUI charge. If you failed a breathalyzer test and were charged with drinking and driving, the following could have caused inaccurate results.

Elevated Mouth Alcohol

Typically before a breathalyzer test, police officers will ask an individual to take a deep breath and blow into the machine. This is because breathalyzer tests are designed to measure the level of alcohol in a person’s lungs. The lungs are believed to accurately indicate the amount of alcohol present in the entire body.

However, it’s not uncommon for a person to have elevated mouth alcohol, which can skew the test results. In these cases, the test is not reading the alcohol in a person’s lungs, but instead in their mouth. Being stopped shortly after having a single drink, or after using mouthwash with alcohol, could cause elevated mouth alcohol.

Medications and Medical Conditions

Certain medications and/or medical conditions can also affect how accurate a breathalyzer test result is. For example, a diabetic person has more acetone in their breath than the average person due to the increased amount of ketones in their blood stream. This is particularly true if the diabetic took the test at a time when their blood sugar was elevated. Medications like cough syrup or other medications that contain alcohol in them can also affect breathalyzer test results.

Improper Calibration

Police officers are responsible for calibrating breathalyzer equipment according to manufacturer specifications. They are also required to keep a log of breathalyzer calibration and any pertinent notes from the calibration. One example includes if the machine displayed an error code of any kind. Failure to do this could lead to a breathalyzer test being unable to accurately read BAC.

Contact the Law Offices of Donald J. Matson, PC for Help Today

If you are arrested for drinking and driving in California due to a failed breathalyzer test, there’s a possibility that your breathalyzer results were inaccurate due to the above — or other — factors. An attorney can assess whether there’s any evidence that would cause your breathalyzer results to be dismissed from court. This could significantly weaken the prosecution’s case against you.

Call Donald J. Matson today for help fighting a DUI charge and protecting your rights at (626) 792-1900.