Can breathalyzer equipment give false results?

By Jonathan Blecher on May 25, 2022

Even if you have never encountered one, there is a pretty good chance you have heard about breathalyzer tests. Basically, a breathalyzer test is used to determine the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level in a DUI arrest. If the equipment gives a positive outcome, the obtained BAC test result can be used as evidence during your DUI trial.

However, it is possible for the breathalyzer test to come back positive even when you have not had alcohol. When this happens, it is in your best interest that you figure out how to defend yourself. Because if you do not, you will be convicted of a crime you did not commit.

So how do false positives happen?

There are a few important things to keep in mind when discussing the subject of the false-positive breathalyzer test results. First, the breathalyzer equipment does not directly measure the subject’s blood alcohol content. Rather, it measures the amount of alcohol exhaled from the subject’s lungs through the mouth. The equipment then uses this measurement to estimate the subject’s blood alcohol content.

Florida laws prohibit residents from operating motor vehicles while intoxicated. In the case of alcohol, driving while your BAC level is 0.8% or greater can land you in trouble. Having said this, here are some of the reasons why the breathalyzer equipment can give a false positive result:

When the equipment is poorly calibrated

The breathalyzer equipment must be regularly maintained and carefully calibrated to give accurate results. Manufacturing defects, wear and tear and poor maintenance can result in the equipment registering a false positive.

When there are alcohol residues in your mouth

Certain foods, medications and oral care products can create a false positive when you blow through the breathalyzer equipment.

Operating a motor vehicle while drunk is a dangerous idea. However, you should never be punished for an offense you did not commit. If you believe there is a problem with the breathalyzer test result, it is important that you explore your defense options.


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