Failing a Breathalyzer test is a frustrating and even scary experience for just about anyone, especially if they don't immediately see opportunities for building a defense. When a driver blows over the limit during a sobriety test, they may think that there is nothing they can do to fight the charges, since the Breathalyzer results clearly show that they were legally intoxicated.
In reality, there are many reasons to question the reliability of Breathalyzers, especially when their results can mean the difference between living your life freely or spending time in jail, losing your license, and facing significant fines, with a criminal record to boot.
If you face drunk driving charges because you failed a Breathalyzer test, make sure to examine your circumstances closely to identify all of your legal opportunities. You may have more defensive options than your realize.
Questioning the accuracy of Breathalyzer results
One might think that Breathalyzer devices are extremely reliable and consistent, since they measure blood alcohol levels to tenths of a percentage point. However, there are many things that can affect the reliability of these devices, impacting your results and possibly leading to unjust charges.
Breathalyzers are sensitive tools, and they experience "drift" just like most other scales or gauges. This means that the device may not reset to zero after use, or may produce falsely high or low readings. You can think of this like a bathroom scale that always reads five pounds too heavy. In order to avoid bad results, police have a responsibility to keep their devices properly calibrated and maintained. If the device is not kept properly, the results may be invalid.
The responsibilities of the arresting officer
Whether or not you were over the limit behind the wheel, your arresting officer has a legal responsibility to obey the law and to perform their job properly. It is possible that the actions of the arresting officer may invalidate the charges.
If the officer did not operate the Breathalyzer device correctly, then they may have misread the results or produced bad results because of operator error. This is not exactly common, but it is possible.
It is more common for an officer to violate the rights of a suspect during a stop. This can include many actions, so it is important to review each part of your traffic stop through the eyes the law. Whether you were over the limiter not, the officer should not have the authority to break the law while accusing you of breaking the law.
Building your defense can take time, so the sooner that you start, the better. Approaching your charges with a strong legal strategy helps you keep your rights protected and potentially avoid harsh punishment you do not deserve.