Concord Trial Attorneys

Questioning Breath Alcohol Test Accuracy

As North Carolina days get longer and the weather gets warmer backyard barbeques, picnics at the lake and tailgating at the Speedway become favorite activities. Alcoholic beverages are often present at these events, which makes getting behind the wheel a dangerous proposition. At Brannen & Walker, Attorneys at Law, we have experience defending clients charged with driving while intoxicated.

If an officer pulls you over because they suspect you of operating under the influence, they may ask you to take a breath alcohol test. According to Proctor Cars, a breathalyzer uses a sample of an individual’s breath to estimate the person’s blood alcohol concentration. 

Alcohol circulates in the blood and diffuses out through your lungs, similar to the way carbon dioxide diffuses. A breath test measures how much alcohol is present when you exhale. The law considers you intoxicated and driving illegally if the estimate is .08 percent or higher.

However, since these devices only provide an estimate, not a physical measurement of BAC, you can contest the results based on several factors. Higher body temperature may cause higher readings due to increased volatility. Differences in blood composition and the amount of time after drinking the breathalyzer is administered can also affect the readings.

Some devices cannot tell the difference between alcohol and other chemical compounds, such as vinegar, cleaning fluids and paint remover. Individuals with diabetes or acid reflux also may have high readings, even if they have not been drinking.

Although an officer cannot force you to take a breath alcohol test, you may find yourself spending the night in jail if you decline. Visit our webpage to learn more about this topic.