Generally, breathalyzer results are used as primary evidence in DUI cases because they are used to measure the person’s BAC (blood alcohol concentration). According to Weber Law, the DUI laws in Washington state that a person is not allowed drive if their BAC is 0.08% or more.
However, your defense attorney can challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer to help you avoid being convicted of a DUI. Challenging the breath test result can be successful, depending on the facts of your case. Here’s how breathalyzer results can be challenged as a defense strategy.
Challenge the Breath Test Machine
An uncalibrated or dirty breathalyzer can produce inaccurate results. The arresting officer should be able to testify in court that they had properly calibrated the device at the time of the arrest before conducting the breath test.
Breath tests are considered less accurate than blood tests. One of the reasons is that breathalyzers can recognize many substances similar to alcohol, such as some compounds with methyl group structures that can be present in the breath at any time and give a false reading.
In addition, a breathalyzer result can vary depending on multiple factors, which can put its reliability in question for the DUI charge. For instance, hyperventilation and respiratory issues can also cause the BAC reading to increase.
The Officer Did Not Properly Administer The Test
Breath tests must be properly administered each time they are conducted for accurate and reliable results. Any problems with its administration can impact the reliability of the result. Common mistakes include only doing a single breathing test, misreading the BAC results, or writing an inaccurate percentage of BAC on the official report.
Only an officer with adequate training can get accurate breath test results by following standard procedures. Breath tests should be conducted within two hours of the arrest. The operator of the breath test can be interviewed, and the visual or audio record of the arrest can be reviewed to verify the incident or police report.
The Officer Failed to Testify
Criminal defense rights constitute the right to confront any witness against the defendant, such as the administrative officer. For the breath test results to be reliable in court, the administrating police officer can be required to testify in support of them. If the officer does not testify to support the probable cause of the traffic stop and the breathalyzer result, it increases the defense’s chances of disputing the test results.
The Breathalyzer Test Was the Result of an Unlawful Search
Any qualified police officer must have probable cause to use the breathalyzer. For instance, the officer had pulled you over because you were violating the rules of traffic; speeding, swerving, tailgating, etc. The officer should also have a probable reason for using the breath test machine, such as the defendant showing signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech or bloodshot eyes. The defense attorney can dispute the grounds for conducting the breathalyzer test if there is no probable cause.
A DUI Defense Attorney Can Challenge the Breath Test
Challenging the breathalyzer results can be tricky, but a qualified DUI attorney well-versed in DUI laws can effectively dispute the breath test results. For example, if the police officer fails to conduct a thorough observation before the breath test, it can be used as a potential defense in court. Your attorney can develop a solid defense strategy to help you avoid severe penalties for committing a DUI.