If police arrested you for DUI recently, more than likely, the officer who stopped you used a Breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol content. If you took the test and blew a .08 or higher, that likely became the reason you now face a DUI conviction.

You may not realize, however, that the accuracy of Breathalyzer tests recently has come under scrutiny. In fact, in 2018, New Jersey and Massachusetts threw out the results of 30,000 DUI breath tests because of human error and lax government oversight. Research shows that if the machines haven’t been properly calibrated, they can show a blood alcohol content that is 40% higher than it really is.

What causes inaccurate readings

Breathalyzer machines incorporate a lot of technology. If law enforcement agencies don’t properly maintain them, they can produce inaccurate results. Some of the issues that cause false readings include the following:

  • Software errors
  • Poor maintenance and storage
  • An officer who is improperly trained on how to use the machine
  • The driver taking the breath test has recently used toothpaste, mouthwash or breath mints, which can alter Breathalyzer readings

Refusing a breath test

If you are pulled over for drunk driving, you can refuse a breath test. However, that decision will lead to other consequences, whether you eventually face a DUI charge or not. The penalties for refusing a Breathalyzer test include

  • Losing your driver’s license for seven months to a year
  • Fines and court costs
  • Mandatory installation of an interlock device on your car for six months to a year
  • Mandatory alcohol education
  • Increased insurance premiums

On the other hand, a blood test at a police station will provide a more accurate reading of the amount of alcohol in your blood. Refusing both a Breathalyzer test and blood test will come with consequences too, yet without those test results, law enforcement has no hard evidence you were driving drunk.

If you end up facing charges for DUI or refusing a breath or blood test, you need to consult an experienced criminal law attorney. An attorney can review the circumstances for your arrest to see if law enforcement errors could help get your charges reduced or dismissed.