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Are There Any Defenses to Breathalyzer Results?

Are There Any Defenses to Breathalyzer Results?

All is not lost if you’ve blown above the legal limit. There are often defenses to breathalyzer results. There is no way around it—adverse breathalyzer results can make a case more challenging. Such results only make a capable legal defense more important.

What Is a Breathalyzer?

A breathalyzer is the generic name for any number of devices that measures a user’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The breathalyzer is most often used by law enforcement officers who suspect someone of being intoxicated, including motorists. 

The first breathalyzer came to market in 1954. Despite being more than half a century old, our justice system uses breathalyzer technology to convict individuals of driving while intoxicated (DWI). 

What Is the Legal Limit for Blood Alcohol Content in Missouri?

Both administrative and criminal law in Missouri punish those who drive while intoxicated. For adults, breathalyzer results showing a BAC of .08 or higher generally leads to arrest (and charges of DWI). Minors may face administrative sanctions if their BAC is .02 or higher. 

Special categories of drivers, like truck drivers or drivers under 21, may face arrest and other sanctions even if their BAC is below .08.

Are Breathalyzer Tests Always Accurate?

Breathalyzer tests are not always accurate. Some may be stunned to find just how often breathalyzer tests can be wrong. 

One study found that someone who uses an asthma inhaler may trigger false positive results on a breathalyzer test. Another study found that if the person giving the breathalyzer test has used hand sanitizer, it may distort the machine’s readings. This is particularly concerning in a time when the use of hand sanitizer is common.

Even in cases where there is no obvious reason for inaccuracy, we know that breathalyzer tests are often inaccurate. 

In a single twelve-month span, judges in New Jersey and Massachusetts threw out more than 30,000 breathalyzer test results. Human error in the administration of the tests was a significant factor in disregarding the breathalyzer results.

This goes to show that there are several credible defenses to breathalyzer test results. You should not assume your fate is sealed just because you’ve registered unfavorable breathalyzer results.

What Are Defenses Against Breathalyzer Results?

Each defendant in a criminal case needs a personalized defense. A capable criminal defense attorney will review the facts of your case and identify an appropriate defense. Possible defenses to adverse breathalyzer test results include:

  • That the presence of chemicals (like hand sanitizer or mouthwash) interfered with the test results
  • That the administrator of the test did not have proper training or credentials
  • That the administrator of the test gave you improper instructions
  • That the breathalyzer machine malfunctioned or was poorly maintained
  • That the results of the breathalyzer test were not consistent with your behavior, demeanor, or other chemical tests (which may indicate you were not intoxicated)

Let an attorney worry about your defense. They’ll identify any reasons why your breathalyzer test results are invalid.

Call Us Today to Speak to a St. Louis DUI Defense Lawyer

DWI is a serious charge that can damage your reputation and result in significant legal penalties. The lawyers at Bruntrager & Billings, P.C. will challenge breathalyzer test results if possible. We will also put forth a thorough defense, seeking the best possible outcome to your case. Call Bruntrager & Billings, P.C. today at 314-646-0066 or contact us online to discuss your case.