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Can a Breathalyzer Accurately Detect My Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)?

Posted on in DUI/DWI

Campbell County criminal defense attorney DUI

Although you consent to take roadside blood alcohol content (BAC) tests when a Tennessee DMV issues your driver’s license, there are still reasons that you may wish to contest alcohol breathalyzer tests. A 2019 New York Times investigation discovered that in many cases, alcohol breath test machines are not reliable enough to justify the nearly 1 million Americans arrested each year for driving under the influence (DUI). To gain a deeper understanding of why you and your attorney should consider contesting an alcohol breath test, it is crucial to understand why these machines mislead in so many cases. 

Breath Alcohol Tests

Part of The New York Times' investigation discovered that judges in Massachusetts and New Jersey discarded 30,000 breathalyzer tests in just one year due to human error. Thousands of more drivers have had their tests invalidated, and that alone is a strong reason to consider contesting the results of your BAC test. 

Breath alcohol test machines require precise calibration. If there is a slight variance in performance, a machine’s results can be inaccurate by up to 40 percent. Not only do these machines have to be correctly calibrated, but they also need routine maintenance. Any police department that lacks the expertise or rigid standards necessary to conduct proper maintenance could cause many misleading tests. 

Also, test machines produce results with the help of the software onboard. The Times’ investigation found that there are numerous programming errors in the machines’ software. To make matters worse, officials have bypassed safety protocols on some of these machines that should warn police departments that the test results will not be accurate. 

The manufacturers of these machines have even stated that breath alcohol tests were only meant to be rough estimates, not a mandatory process that could lead to severe criminal penalties. 

Tennessee Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer 

Despite the finicky nature of breath alcohol test machines, it is still essential that you take any test required of you by law enforcement. Tennessee’s implied consent law states that if you do not submit to an alcohol test, you can be penalized as such:

  • Revocation of driver’s license for one year for a first offense

  • Revocation of driver’s license for two years for a second offense

  • Revocation of driver’s license for two years if a crash resulted in bodily injury

  • Revocation of driver’s license for five years if a crash resulted in a death

To increase your chance at avoiding DUI charges, take the test, and contest its results in court.

Contact a Jacksboro, TN DUI Defense Lawyer

Breath alcohol tests are not always accurate, but they are frequently upheld as concrete evidence that a driver was intoxicated beyond the legal limit. If you or someone you know is facing drunk driving charges, it is imperative that you seek professional legal counsel. Work with a tenacious Campbell County criminal defense attorney to protect your driving privileges and defend your case to the fullest extent. Call The Law Office of William F. Evans today at 423-449-7980 to schedule your free consultation.




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