DWI experts: Breathalyzers not always that reliable

Take a deep breath before you hear this news. If you think that Breathalyzers are always reliable when they measure blood alcohol content, think again. An increasing body of evidence suggests that certain populations may be unjustly accused of certain traffic offenses simply because of their body chemistry. If you have taken a Breathalyzer test recently, you need to know certain facts about the accuracy and validity of these commonly used machines. You have the right to refuse to take field sobriety tests and Breathalyzer analysis. A Baltimore DUI attorney can help you understand more about the DUI prosecution system.

Many of us do not understand how a Breathalyzer works. These machines measure the concentration of ethyl alcohol — the main ingredient in an alcoholic beverage — in the individual’s breath. The problem: Those machines often confuse other molecules for ethyl alcohol. Many other types of compounds actually resemble ethyl alcohol. For example, diabetic drivers have a body chemistry that could be high in ketones, depending on their health status. Acetone, which is commonly identified in the bodies of both serious dieters and diabetics, can easily skew the results of a Breathalyzer.

Further, environmental substances can also compromise the accuracy of a Breathalyzer reading used to bring a DUI charge. If you are an industrial worker or painter, you may be particularly affected by this fact. Consider the recent study that showed a subject with a blood alcohol content level of 0.12 percent, much higher than the legal limit for driving in Maryland. Had the man been drinking? No. He had simply been in the same room as a freshly-painted contact cement project.

In essence, it is important to realize that Breathalyzer results are vulnerable to error from a variety of sources. Personal and environmental factors play a role, but officers’ failure to maintain and calibrate their instruments may also be to blame. Remember that having a high BAC level from a Breathalyzer alone may not be enough to convict a driver on a DUI charge. Alcohol-related traffic violations have become a hot topic in the Maryland political scene. Don’t let yourself fall victim to aggressive prosecution; you have rights that deserve protection.