Are breath tests an accurate basis for a DUI? 49 Answers as of May 30, 2013

Are breath tests extremely accurate that it can really tell whether the person has a high alcohol level?

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Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
I'd recommend you retain a lawyer to help you or you ask the court for legal counsel.You have a right to counsel. Don't be afraid to exercise that right. It depends on the type of test; the field tests aren't usually that reliable, however, the data-master, if it has been maintained properly and if the examiner follows the proper testing procedures and protocols, can be accurate to high degree of probability. These tests involve sophisticated chemical testing, so human error is always a potential issue. I'd recommend you find an experienced criminal attorney who understands the procedures and equipment to review the tests.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/21/2012
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
The current technology makes these testing devices extremely accurate if they are certified, maintained properly and calibrated correctly.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 3/26/2012
Palumbo and Kosofsky
Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
No they are not accurate
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 3/26/2012
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
It depends - there are several medical factors that come into play, the operation of the machine (was it done right) and the blanks (were they contaminated). Finally, the algorithm of the machine is in question, was it calibrated correctly, was the calibration logged, etc. Generally speaking, the stationary machine (not the portable one) is fairly accurate, if maintained and operated correctly, but it has to be calibrated and even then some medical conditions affect the results.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 3/26/2012
Correia-Champa & Mailhot
Correia-Champa & Mailhot | Susan Correia Champa
If the machine is in good working order, the test is administered properly and the guidelines are adhered to by the police department regarding the proper calibration, storage and testing of the machine, then it is an accurate determination that is admissible in court.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 3/26/2012
    Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC
    Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC | Thomas A. Medford, Jr.
    Breath test are very accurate and have been recognized by the judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia as being accurately measure blood alcohol content.
    Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    Depends. The DA and police will always say yes. But a good defense attorney can analyze the records and see how the machine was behaving. I've won everything from a 0.08 to a 0.24 breath test. I've never known a machine that worked perfectly every time.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Anderson Law Office
    Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
    It depends on who you ask. There is a percentage of inaccuracy to any test.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    They are generally accurate if done right. But, plus or minus .03% can be argued with an expert.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    The Short Law Group, P.C.
    The Short Law Group, P.C. | Shawn Kollie
    Under Oregon law a breath test is typically a valid reason for a DUI charge. Sometimes a DUI Lawyer can challenge the accuracy of the machine itself, or 'operator error' from the officer. Contact a DUI Lawyer on your area with the specific facts of your case.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman
    Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman | Brian K. Wanerman
    Breath tests are only an indicator that a person may be under the influence of alcohol. They are not "tests" in that you cannot "pass" or "fail" them. As with any such indicator, it is only as valid as the reliability of the equipment and the procedures used. There are many ways the results of these "tests" can be challenged - such as challenging the calibration of the machine, whether it was used correctly, etc. You need to consult an attorney with the specific facts of your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    No it is based on average. The average of alcohol in deep lung air to the alchol in the blood. Some people have a higher or lower ratio. The blood test is the most accurate.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    If properly administered, a breath test is accepted as accurate by the courts. The burden is upon you, the defendant, to introduce evidence challenging the accuracy of the breath test in your situation.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Of all the tests for a DUI the breath test is the least accurate. There are numerous ways to attack results from a breath test in court. Consult with an attorney to find out if this is the way to go in your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber | Michael R. Garber
    If the machine is properly calibrated and the operator is qualified and the test is done properly it is an accurate measure of your blood alcohol concentration. The only breathalyzer that can be used as evidence in a DWI case is the Intoxilyzer 5000.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    Breath tests are fairly accurate. A good attorney will order the calibration logs and check to see that the particular machine that was used in your instance was accurate and all procedures were followed in the appropriate manner. However, they are machines and are not always 100% accurate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Grantland, Blodgett, Shaw & Abel
    Grantland, Blodgett, Shaw & Abel | Gregory M. Abel
    They are NOT extremely accurate. They are an estimation. Only a properly performed blood test is highly accurate.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    The accuracy of a breath test can be disputed. You should hire an attorney with experience in this area. There is a host of problems that could exist with the breathalyzer. Questions arise about the accuracy and calibration of the machine. However, if these things are not properly raised and preserved though objection and investigation, then it will go forward without question. Your best course of action is to hire an attorney with the appropriate experience.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Law Offices of Christopher L. Hoglin, P.C.
    Law Offices of Christopher L. Hoglin, P.C. | Christopher L. Hoglin
    Breathalyzer tests are admissible in Court to provide evidence of a person's Blood Alcohol Concentration. Although it is not necessarily considered the most reliable test (blood tests are much more reliable if done correctly), it can still be used in a DUI case. What is important though when looking at breath test results is the time in which the test was taken. Like any chemical test (especially breath tests), the results are only as good as the time in which the test was taken. The District Attorney has the duty of proving what your blood alcohol concentration was at the time you were driving. So a result from a breath test taken hours after your arrest (or from the time you were last driving) is less reliable in determining what your blood alcohol concentration was at the time of driving.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    Breath test are often challenged sucessfully in Court. They are not always accurate.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 5/30/2013
    Russman Law
    Russman Law | Ryan Russman
    No. There are many substances that can contaminate the breath sample.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Law Office of Patrick E. Donovan, PLLC
    Law Office of Patrick E. Donovan, PLLC | Patrick E. Donovan
    Breath tests, in my view, are unreliable. There is a known margin of error of .02, although you won't get any police officer or breath test operator to admit it. Other factors, such as the officer's failure to adhere to the 20 minute waiting period, can influence the reliability of the test.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    The handheld breath units cops use at the roadside can give them probable cause for arrest, but only the big machine at the police station gives results that are admissible in court. And yes, the courts have ruled that they are accurate enough to be used in court.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Depends on the machine and how recently it was calibrated.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    The truth is that all tests have a degree of error that is why the department of health requires them to be certified and maintained. The higher the test the higher the margin of error. The normal factor is about 10% + or - for the test. The way we build a defense is to look at not only the test results but the facts and circumstance of your case.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Larry K. Dunn & Associates | Larry K. Dunn
    The Intoxilyzer 5000en breath testing machine used for evidentiary testing is considered to be accurate within plus or minus 10 percent. Assuming the officer properly administered the breath test and the machine was operating properly the 10 percent margin of error is accepted by most prosecuting agencies and laboratories.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 3/26/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Quite the opposite, they are extremely inaccurate, especially if there is recent consumption of alcohol. The margin of error is a whopping 40%.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/24/2012
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
    Yes, most BAC (blood alcohol content) tests use a sample of the defendant's breath in order to conduct the test and they have a high degree of accuracy.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    The results are sufficiently reliable to be admissible as evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Leone, Throwe, Teller, & Nagle
    Leone, Throwe, Teller, & Nagle | Adam J. Teller
    Accurate enough to get you convicted.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Law Office of Robert Sisson | Robert Sisson
    The pbt (preliminary breathe TEST) is often used at the scene by the arresting officer, as another indicator is OWI. They are not admissible at trial as theybare not deemed scientifically accurate enough. A breathe machine, at the police station, is often admissible.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Breathalyzer machines such as the Breathalizer 900 are very accurate, but not as accurate as a blood test. They test the amount of alcohol in your blood at the time of the test, which is usually an hour or two after you were driving. They must be done within two hours to be admissible. Drunk driving is like firing a gun at a moving train and hoping that no one gets hit by the bullets. It is much cheaper to take a taxi than to get a DWI which will cost you thousands and make it hard to get a job. Your insurance will be very expensive and yo will have a criminal record. You can't beat the case and you will be convicted of at least DWUI if you were behind the wheel.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    The accuracy varies based on what device is being used and the techniques used by the administering officer in giving the test. There are also a number of things that can affect the results. This is why you need an experienced DUI lawyer who has experience attacking DUI results.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Law Office of Neal L. Weinstein
    Law Office of Neal L. Weinstein | Neal L. Weinstein
    Hard to say. The state relies upon them, but you can challenge them because the state usually only takes one test, about an hour after the arrest, and then it is a matter of extrapolation if you are on a rising blood alcohol level, or falling alcohol level at the time of the test, or have reached a plateau, There are many factors that can affect the test, including the food you ate, the alcohol you drank, when you last drank it, your weight and height and age, whether you drank the previous day, what medications you were on, etc etc, a complicated case, but you can be assured that if you are tested above a .08, you will likely be charged with OUI. You should hire an experienced attorney to help you, if you have a pending case.
    Answer Applies to: Maine
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
    An aggressive DUI attorney will challenge the accuracy of a breath test. There are a wide number of reasons why the breath test may be very inaccurate. Do not assume because the police told you you blew .08 or .15 or even .2 that the machine was accurate or that the evidence will ultimately come in. An aggressive DUI attorney will challenge every aspect of the case, including the breath result.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    If the machine is properly working an properly certified, they are very accurate.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Yes, or they wouldnt be authorized by the courts.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    McClendon Owens Melia McBreen LLP
    McClendon Owens Melia McBreen LLP | Richard L. McBreen III
    The state will say yes, and your attorney will argue that it isn't. Try asking yourself, if you were on a jury, and you were presented with evidence that a person took a breath test that showed they were .18 (more than double the legal limit) whether you would think the person was intoxicated. The reason I answer the question like this is because there is no real answer. The state will of course rely on this as great evidence, but your attorney will be able to point out the shortcomings of such evidence, or may be able to keep it out of trial altogether.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    The breath tests are extremely accurate. If you tell the officer you have had two drinks, and you blow a .09, then you are clueless.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    The Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache
    The Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache | Stephanie Arrache
    As long as they are maintained they are generally accurate. That is why you should hire an attorney to investigate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    There are a lot of potential issues with breath machines and why then can and often give inaccurate BAC levels. This can include issues if you were in the absorption rate, breath temperature, body temperature, maintenance and calibration issues with the machine...etc.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    No.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/30/2013
    Law Offices of Douglas J. Lindsay
    Law Offices of Douglas J. Lindsay | Douglas J. Lindsay
    Yes, breathalyzer results, if properly administered by a person who is certified to conduct the test, are admissible as accurate evidence, in Court.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    The Law Offices of Harold L. Wallin | Harold L. Wallin
    Depends who you are talking to. Police and prosecutors believe they are.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    No. They can be challenged on many levels. However, to do so you may need a good lawyer and possibly some experts.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Andersen Staab PLLC
    Andersen Staab PLLC | F. Dayle Andersen
    The breath test result is considered admissible evidence against you at the time of trial. The accuracy or admissibility is something that can be challenged depending on the facts, whether certain protocols and procedures were performed both on you and the machine at or before the time of the testing.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/23/2012
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