Study of breath tests could call DUI arrests into question

Being arrested for driving under the influence in Georgia can result in myriad problems. With a conviction, there can be a driver's license suspension, jail time, fines and the need to place an ignition interlock device on the vehicle. In addition, people who have a DUI on their record might face various aftereffects such as increased insurance rates and problems getting certain jobs.

Obviously, it is never advisable to get behind the wheel after drinking. However, a new report is calling into question one of the main tenets law enforcement and prosecutors use to secure convictions: breath tests.

According to an investigation by reporters for The New York Times, a Breathalyzer test could provide inaccurate results. In interviews with a variety of people involved in the testing procedure and its aftermath including attorneys, science professionals, law enforcement and executives from companies that make these machines, the devices are not as foolproof as they are perceived. Since the breath test is frequently the determinative factor in an officer making an arrest, the entire case can come undone when its results are deemed faulty.

Issues with maintenance, inconsistent results and how the machines are used were found. Irregularities with some of the manufacturers is a problem. In some instances, a test result was given even if there was a software failure. The temperature of the person's breath also affected the results. If the person took part in certain activities prior to the test such as brushing their teeth or eating a breath mint, it sometimes resulted in the machine registering a higher alcohol level than it should have.

An inaccurate breathalyzer test could mean the difference between a person falling under the limit or over it. Because law enforcement actively seeks out drivers who might be operating their vehicles under the influence and the breath test being a key piece of evidence, calling it into question could be an effective method of defense. To avoid a conviction, a law firm experienced in DUI cases and armed with this information could help to get an acquittal. Regardless of the situation, it may be beneficial to have legal assistance to formulate a defense.

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