Trial-Tested, Trial-Ready Attorneys

How accurate are DUI breath tests?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2024 | Blog, DUI

When pulled over by law enforcement, one of the most nerve-wracking experiences a driver can face is the administration of a DUI breath test.

The accuracy of these tests can have significant consequences for individuals, potentially impacting their freedom, employment and future prospects.

The mechanics of DUI breath tests

DUI breath tests measure the concentration of alcohol in a person’s breath to estimate their blood alcohol concentration. This measurement assists in determining whether a driver is legally intoxicated. However, these tests are not infallible and can produce inaccurate results under certain conditions.

Factors affecting accuracy

Several factors can influence the accuracy of DUI breath tests. For instance, residual alcohol in the mouth, certain medical conditions and even environmental factors, such as temperature, can impact the results. The calibration and maintenance of breath-testing devices play a significant role in their accuracy. Without proper calibration, these devices may produce misleading readings. Recently, approximately 27,000 people convicted of a DUI in Massachusetts received the opportunity to withdraw a plea or go to trial again due to improper calibration over eight years.

Consequences of inaccuracy

For individuals subjected to DUI breath tests, inaccurate results can have dire consequences. A false positive could lead to unwarranted legal repercussions, including fines, license suspension and even imprisonment. Moreover, the social stigma associated with a DUI charge can affect personal and professional relationships, leading to significant hardship.

DUI breath tests are an important aspect of law enforcement’s efforts to ensure road safety. However, their accuracy is not absolute, and individuals subjected to these tests must be aware of their rights and potential consequences.