For the last several decades, the Breathalyzer test has been the go-to judge of intoxication for suspected drunk drivers. Generally more common than blood or urine tests, the Breathalyzer and the BAC reading it produces have been enough to charge thousands of drivers with DUI. Considering the fact that BAC readings have been considered irrefutable evidence of driving while intoxicated, some may be surprised to find out they never should be.
Uncontested and peer reviewed studies show a 50 percent margin of error when comparing Breathalyzer result readings to actual BAC results. No, Breathalyzer results are not an actual blood alcohol content reading. Breathalyzer machines are surprisingly simple in their operation. A sample breath is converted to a BAC estimation by means of a standardized equation. When studied for inconsistencies, BAC results by way of breathalyzers compared to BAC results by way of blood test, showed huge variances.
So what does this information mean for the everyday driver? Well, it means, that unless your Breathalyzer produced BAC reading can make up for the 50 percent margin of error, it may be worth challenging. Aside from the fact that individual alcohol tolerance and impairment varies considerably from one person to another, a test with such great room for error should never be used to gauge impairment, let alone assign irrefutable guilt.
Knowledge of the Breathalyzer test, its limitations, and alarming margin of error could come in handy if faced with a DUI charge. If you have found yourself in this situation, consider contacting an attorney. With their skill, knowledge and experience it may be possible to reduce or even eliminate charges.