Challenges to Breathalyzer results

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2021 | Criminal Defense

A Breathalyzer is a device that measures blood alcohol content from a breath sample. State laws allow officers in Springfield, Missouri, to use them to check suspected drivers for DUI. However, studies question their accuracy and drivers can challenge them in court.

Challenges to a Breathalyzer

Some lines of a criminal defense strategy could be to argue that the device has not been properly calibrated or that the officer did not have proper training. A Breathalyzer must be calibrated, which tests the sensor of the device, or it may give inaccurate results. An officer also needs special training, so they learn how to use them correctly to give accurate results.

An officer needs reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over, such as speeding or running a red light. The officer should observe the driver for twenty minutes to check for signs of impaired driving for probable cause. If one or both of these elements is missing, the prosecution may not be able to use test results in court.

Sometimes, certain health conditions cause the body to produce more acetones and ketones, which have alcoholic properties. Diabetics and people with acid reflux disease produce more of these compounds, so it could skew test results.

Penalties for refusing to take a Breathalyzer

Under Missouri’s implied consent law for DWI, drivers agree to submit to chemical tests by when obtaining a license. A driver faces chemical revocation, which means an automatic one-year license suspension for refusal, but they can’t be forced to take it.

If a driver has prior license suspensions or revocations, the driver must install an ignition interlock device after the revocation ends. In some cases, an officer may force a blood draw, such as accidents with injuries, if the driver refuses to take a breathalyzer.

While drivers can often refuse the test, this may seem like an admission of guilt to the court. However, with a good defense, they have a better chance of getting the charges reduced or dismissed.