Do Breathalyzer Tests Accurately Measure Intoxication?

There is only one way to accurately determine an individual’s Blood Alcohol Level (BAC). Unsurprisingly, it’s a blood test. Even there, the blood test must be administered correctly with a precise amount of blood taken and then stored correctly in order to avoid the blood fermenting before it can be tested. The alcohol is evaporated from the blood and then measured as a ratio. Anything above .08 is considered legally intoxicated and you can be charged with DUI.

So why are breathalyzer tests used to determine BAC? After all, isn’t a BAC a measure of the alcohol to blood ratio? A cynical mind might be of the opinion that breathalyzer tests are administered for the same reason that roadside for the same reason that field sobriety tests are: They’re prone to giving false positives.

State Finds that Breathalyzer Tests Were Improperly Administered

In August of last year, the state agency that regulates how field sobriety tests are administered found that breathalyzer devices in Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties were all improperly calibrated. The breathalyzer is calibrated using a myth of alcohol and ethanol and purportedly mimics the amount of alcohol on the breath. The solution used can only be purchased from a single source authorized by the government. The aforementioned counties were all using an off-brand solution purchased elsewhere.

Are Breathalyzer Tests Scientifically Valid?

Not really. Imagine that a 100 lb woman does 3 shots in an hour on an empty stomach. Another person, a 250 lb man who had recently eaten a full meal is tested using the same device. Since the device tests the breath (and not blood) there’s no reason to believe that a breathalyzer test could differentiate between the 250 lb man and the 100 lb woman.

In Florida, we use a device known as the Intoxilyzer 8000. The Intoxilyzer 8000 passes an infrared beam through the individual’s breath sample. Since it is assumed that ethyl alcohol absorbs infrared wavelengths within a specific range, the amount of infrared light absorbed in this range supposedly indicates the person’s BAC.

But hold on a minute. One of the key problems with the Intoxilyzer 8000 is that more substances than ethyl alcohol are absorbed in the test range. One of those is acetone, which can be found in a person’s breath. Acetone is a ketone. Those who are on low carb, high protein diets can naturally generate acetone in their breath. Not only are these diets unsafe, but they can also cost you your license.

In addition, Intoxilyzer 8000 results were tossed out of court independently by two Ohio judges after the government failed to address key concerns with the device.

If you’ve been charged with DUI on the strength of a breathalyzer test, you can fight the charges. Breathalyzer tests do not stand up to scientific rigor. There is only one scientifically valid way to measure an individual’s blood alcohol level. That is with a blood test.

Talk to a West Palm Beach DUI Lawyer

The Skier Law Firm P.A. can help defend you from DUI charges in West Palm Beach. Give us a call or talk to us online to set up an appointment.

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