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Breath test devices have limitations

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2023 | DWI Defense |

Breath test devices are tools that measure the alcohol content in someone’s breath. New Jersey law enforcement officials often rely on these devices to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol while driving.

While breath test devices are valuable tools, it is important to recognize that they are not infallible. There are several factors that can impact the accuracy of these devices.

Calibration and maintenance

Breath test devices require regular calibration and maintenance to ensure precise results. Incorrectly calibrated breath test devices may provide inaccurate readings.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors can also impact the accuracy of breath test devices. Extreme temperatures, humidity and altitude changes all have the potential to affect the performance of these devices. For example, high temperatures may cause the alcohol in the solution to evaporate, leading to higher readings. Conversely, cold temperatures might slow down the chemical reactions within the device, causing lower readings.

Substance interference

Breath test devices measure alcohol levels, but they may also detect other substances present in the breath. Substances like mouthwash, breath fresheners or even residual substances from certain medications can potentially interfere with the accuracy of the readings. This interference can lead to inflated results that do not accurately represent an individual’s actual blood alcohol content.

Variability in breath composition

The variability in an individual’s breath composition also has the capacity to influence the accuracy of a breath test. For instance, some medical conditions, like gastroesophageal reflux disease, can lead to the presence of mouth alcohol, which may result in artificially elevated readings.

Breath test devices serve a valuable purpose, but they have limitations and are not as accurate as blood tests. Recognizing these limitations helps ensure fair and accurate assessments of alcohol impairment in court.