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How Reliable are Breath Tests?

Man taking a breath test to determine BAC

The lights come flashing from behind and the driver’s blood pressure rises. This feeling is typically the same for most drivers whether or not they were drinking before getting behind the wheel.

When the officer comes to talk to the driver and suspects that they may be intoxicated, one test they may ask the driver to submit is a breath test. Even if the test comes back with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading at or above .08%, there is still hope for drivers.

Breath Test Margin of Error

It is estimated that the margin of error for breath tests can be as high as 15%. This can be for multiple reasons, including the breathalyzer not being calibrated correctly and the officer mishandling the breathalyzer.

Other reasons why a breathalyzer could produce a false reading include:

  • Certain foods interacting with the test;
  • Cigarette smoke;
  • Acid reflux; and,
  • Recently using mouthwash.

Additionally, if someone’s body temperature is higher than normal, this could also impact the results of a breath test. A higher body temperature equates to a potentially higher BAC reading due to volatility. It’s suggested that the most accurate time to get a reading is about one to two hours after a person stops drinking.

In the end, it’s suggested that if BAC needs to be calculated, a blood test is the most accurate way to measure it.

Should Drivers Refuse a Breath Test?

Because breath tests are unreliable, some drivers opt to refuse them. However, this can lead to automatic consequences, including the driver’s license being suspended for 180 days under Texas’ implied consent law.

Even if a driver wants to refuse a breath test, there are some circumstances where this won’t be an option, such as if the accused had a child in the vehicle or was involved in an accident that resulted in someone’s death.

Let The Law Offices of Jed Silverman Fight For You

As you can see, there are many circumstances where results from breath tests cannot be trusted. If you took a breath test that resulted in an unfavorable outcome, the team at The Law Offices of Jed Silverman is here for you. Don’t let a false positive breath test derail your future — contact The Law Offices of Jed Silverman to set up a consultation so we can begin working on your case. (713) 597-2221

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