Indiana breath test devices are often unreliable

Indiana law officers use breath test devices to calculate if a driver is intoxicated; however, these devices have been found to give inaccurate results.

Indianapolis motorists who have been pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated may have taken a breath test. Law enforcement officers in the state use hand-held breath test devices to help them determine whether or not a driver is intoxicated. However, many studies show that the results from these breath analyzers cannot always be trusted. In some cases, the breath test readings may report that a driver's blood alcohol content level is higher than it actually is. In fact, research from the State University of New York at Potsdam found that one in four people will test higher than their actual blood alcohol content level. This can lead to a variety of issues, including wrongful drunk driving charges and a possible DUI conviction.

Inaccurate readings

Before a breath test device gives the officer a BAC measurement, it first analyzes how much ethanol alcohol is contained in a breath sample submitted by the driver. A study performed by the State University of New York at Potsdam found that many breath test models mistakenly picked up methyl group structures, which has a chemical structure similar to ethanol. Methyl groups are not found in alcohol, but can be detected in many different compounds, some of which occur naturally in the mouth. These readings can falsely inflate the driver's BAC.

How a breath test device works

One problem with the breath test readings is that the device gives a blood alcohol content level without ever actually testing the blood. The machine does this indirectly. As it detects how much alcohol is in the breath sample, the machine converts the breath alcohol content into a blood alcohol content percentage. Yet, research from UNY shows that there can be a 15 percent discrepancy when the breath alcohol level is compared to the blood alcohol level.

Factors that affect the breath test reading

There are also several uncontrollable factors that can alter the breath test reading. According to NBC News, these include:

  • Personal variances in body temperature and substances left in the driver's mouth, such as vomit, blood or food
  • Substances in the environment, such as moisture, dirt and tobacco smoke
  • Cellphone and police radio interference
  • Gasoline, paint and paint thinner fumes, as well as inhaled toxins from cleaning products
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or dieters with ketoacidosis

Improper calibration and maintenance of the device, as well as user error should also be considered when officers administer breath tests to drivers suspected of DUI.

You may need legal assistance

If you have been wrongfully convicted of drunk driving in Indiana and need a strong DUI defense, you may want to consider contacting a criminal attorney. Not only are they able to walk you through the legal process, but they will ensure that all of your rights are upheld in court.

Keywords: DUI, drunk driving, breath test