A Proven Criminal Defense Team

How accurate are breath tests?

On Behalf of | Aug 20, 2020 | DUID |

Most officers in Colorado rely on breath tests to build their case, but the field sobriety tests that they use may not give accurate readings. These false positive or inaccurate results can put drivers at risk of unnecessary charges and harsher penalties.

Colorado officers’ breath tests may not create accurate results.

While most breath test companies report that these devices are highly precise, they may issue false positives or display a much higher blood alcohol content (BAC) than other testing methods. In fact, the New York Times reports that these devices can display results that are up to 40% too high.

This inaccuracy has resulted in serious charges for Colorado citizens. In 2016, poorly calibrated machines caused Robert Friedlander to test at a higher BAC during a drunk driving stop, and the results called into question accuracy of 160 Intoxilyzer 9000 machines used across the state. While the state believes that they have resolved these issues, reports from across the United States show that inaccurate results are more common than many may think.

Calibration is also only one issue that can impact breath test results. Officers must use devices correctly and departments must properly maintain these machines. Other factors like air pollution, temperature, cleaning fumes and food in a person’s mouth could also impact breath test results.

Inaccurate testing could lead to inappropriate or aggravated charges.

In Colorado, the authorities can convict a driver of driving under the influence even without swerving, reckless behavior or other signs of impairment if their BAC is 0.08 or higher. Inaccurate breath tests could lead to unfair convictions in drivers who would not otherwise have met the legal definition of a DUI.

Worse, inaccurate breath tests could put drivers at risk of aggravated charges. If a driver blows an inaccurately high BAC, they could find themselves at risk of higher fines, longer jail sentences and other penalties that they would not otherwise face.

Because of the inaccuracy of breath tests, it is important to work with an attorney who knows their potential failings. If you or a loved one faces DUI charges, be sure to speak with an attorney who can defend you against these accusations and protect your rights.