Breathalyzers are a such a common part of our everyday experience in America that even if a person has never personally seen one or been subjected to a sobriety test, he or she probably has a fairly good idea what these devices measure and the consequences of failing such a test.
However, many people do not realize that breathalyzers are not perfect, infallible devices. Even after suspects submit to a breathalyzer test and fail it, they may have legally viable reasons to contest the results and challenge the charges altogether.
If you find yourself facing drunk driving charges after failing a breathalyzer test, you must begin building a strong legal defense as soon as you can. If you do not, you only pass up opportunities to defend your own rights and driving privileges. There is no benefit in waiting to build a defense, only lost time and opportunities.
Are breathalyzers always reliable?
Breathalyzers often receive undue trust from the public and courts considering drunk driving charges. There are numerous ways that such a device might malfunction or otherwise produce inaccurate results, leading to an unfair drunk driving conviction for some unlucky suspect.
Like any device that measures dynamically, like a scale or other sensor, if its measurement functions are not properly calibrated, it will not produce accurate readings. If you have ever looked at a luggage scale at an airline check-in counter and seen it resting at something other than “0.0”, you understand that it is not going to produce an accurate measurement of the weight of your luggage. If, for instance, the scale’s resting reading is 1.5 pounds, then the airline may erroneously charge you for exceeding the weight limit. Similarly, an uncalibrated breathalyzer may indicate unsafe inebriation even though you are not actually over the limit.
If the officer who administers the test has not regularly maintained the device, it may easily malfunction, or may produce poor results due to operator error if the officer does not use it correctly.
Even if the device does produce accurate results and you are, in fact, over the legal limit, you may have grounds to challenge the charges based on your officer’s actions. If the officer violates your rights in any way during the stop, a court may dismiss the charges entirely.
Build your defense as soon as you can
Fighting drunk driving charges may seem futile, but true futility in this situation is failing to defend yourself altogether. If you do not immediately see legal grounds to defend yourself after receiving drunk driving charges, an experienced attorney can help you assess your charges and identify all your legal options, guiding you as you fight to preserve your rights and freedoms.