September 4, 2023 | DUI
Breathalyzer machines are a common feature of many of Ohio’s more than 12,000 annual arrests for operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI/DUI). Both law enforcement officers and prosecutors alike would have you believe that these devices accurately and irrefutably measure the alcohol concentration on your breath.
In reality, however, Breathalyzer machines are prone to errors and malfunctions that make their results questionable. But you should not expect the police or the prosecutor to readily inform you that the Breathalyzer results in your case are less than reliable.
Instead, it falls to you and your Cincinnati DUI attorney to investigate and challenge the results of your Breathalyzer test. As experience shows, there may be several reasons why you should question them before accepting a plea deal and being sentenced as an OVI offender.
Top Three Reasons Why Breathalyzer Results Are Wrong
The “Breathalyzer” itself is not an item that exists. Instead, it is a term used to describe one of three breath testing machines in use by Ohio law enforcement agencies: the BAC Datamaster, the Intoxilyzer 5000, and the Intoxilyzer 8000.
Each of these claims to be able to measure the concentration of alcohol in your breath from a small sample you provide. However, their results should not be taken at face value if they show you have alcohol on your breath.
Some reasons why these machines may return a false positive include the following:
You Are Diabetic, or You Are on a Keto Diet
If you do not manage your diabetes well, you can experience a sudden drop in your blood sugar. Similarly, the keto diet leads to low blood sugar, given that you are limiting the amount of carbohydrates you consume.
In either case, acetone can build up on your breath as a result.
Breath testing machines cannot distinguish between ethyl alcohol and acetone. So, if you have acetone on your breath, the breath testing machine will detect it and report it as a false positive test result.
You Chew Food, Burp, or Throw Up Before Giving a Breath Sample
Officers are trained to watch you closely during a deprivation period before giving you a breath test. The purpose is to ensure you do not throw up, put something in your mouth, or burp, as these actions can render any subsequent breath test inaccurate.
Failing to ensure your mouth is empty before and during the entire deprivation period can be grounds for suppressing a breath test result as being inaccurate.
There Are Foreign Substances in the Room or Breath Chamber
If there are cleaning products or other harsh chemicals in the ambient air of the room where the breath testing device sits, the air in the breath chamber may be contaminated.
Part of the cycle that any Breathalyzer device goes through before receiving your breath sample involves performing an “air blank,” which vents the breath chamber where the sample of breath will be stored for testing.
The purpose of an air blank is to ensure that only your breath is tested for alcohol. But if the air blank fails to perform correctly, foreign substances can become intermingled with your breath sample. This may cause the device to detect alcohol even if you did not have anything to drink.
Your Course of Action After a Failed Breath Test in Cincinnati, OH
If you did not have anything to drink prior to a Breathalyzer test, a positive result is a sure indication that the machine failed.
You should not accept any plea offer made by the prosecution before you have spoken to an experienced Cincinnati OVI defense lawyer, and the results should be challenged in court and suppressed. A lawyer with experience will know the most appropriate arguments to raise to achieve that outcome.
Contact the Cincinnati DUI Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202