Breath testing for DUI can be very problematic. However, most drivers, and far too many attorneys, really do not understand how frequent these problems arise. In this post, I will highlight some of the common problems with DUI breath testing.
Breath Testing Machines Cannot Measure Just Ethanol
Ethanol is the substance in wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages. Breath testing machines cannot measure ethanol exclusively. The machines measure substances that carry a similar chemical makeup and therefore, they can falsely produce a high number due to the presence of isopropyl alcohol and methanol.
Isopropyl alcohol, more commonly known as rubbing alcohol, is a common disinfectant that can be found in hand sanitizers. It can also be found in many cosmetics and lotions. Methanol is commonly used as an industrial solvent. It can be found in paint thinner, for example.
Because breath testing machines are not specific to ethanol, a driver who uses common products like hand sanitizer, mouth wash, or paint thinner can produce an inflated (and, thus, inaccurate) Blood Alcohol reading.
There is a Difference Between a 105 lb Woman and a 280 lb Man
Every person’s body is different and processes alcohol differently. Breath testing machines measure the content of alcohol in a breath sample and then convert that to an estimated blood alcohol content. The conversion factor that is used is called a partition ratio. However, since every person is different, partition ratios are also different and the assumed ratio can lead to an artificially high blood alcohol reading.
Residual Mouth Alcohol
Another problem with breath testing is over reporting due to residual mouth alcohol. If someone has consumed alcohol just before the breath test, there may be alcohol left over in the mouth. The machines falsely interpret this to mean that there must be more alcohol in that person’s system than the actual amount of alcohol. This is why police officers are required to administer an observation period before testing a driver. If this procedure is not followed correctly, the breath machine can report a high number.
As you can see, there are many problems with breath testing machines. Unfortunately, most attorneys do not know enough about the science behind the testing to be able to identify and challenge these issues in court. This is why it is important to find an experienced DUI attorney who has the knowledge and training to correctly fight your case.
Attorney Mike Bowser is a Board Certified DUI Specialist. This means he had to pass a rigorous examination process that tested his knowledge of DUI science. If you want his superior knowledge and skill on your side, all you have to do is call 888-526-9737 and schedule your free consultation.