Driving under the influence of alcohol contributes to tens of thousands of road deaths in the United States each year, which is why law enforcement officers patrolling the streets of West Palm Beach keep their eyes peeled for signs of impairment. When a police officer stops you under suspicion of DUI, he usually asks you to submit a breath sample to two different devices. The first is the roadside breathalyzer, which an officer uses to confirm his suspicion of DUI. While the results of this test are often fairly accurate, they may not be used in court as evidence that you were driving drunk.
The results from the second device are highly controversial. After you’re in custody, police will ask you to provide a breath sample for the Intoxilyzer 8000, a complex piece of equipment that the State of Florida has approved to produce data for evidentiary use. This means the results of this test can be used against you in court. Naturally, we’d expect these results to be the gospel of what your blood alcohol content looked like when you were stopped, but this is far from reality.
Machines, Like Humans, Make Mistakes
Like any other machine, the Intoxilyzer 8000, manufactured by CMI in Kentucky, is prone to mechanical, electrical, and user errors. One of the main problems with relying on the results of a tool like the Intoxilyzer to determine whether a suspect is guilty of DUI is that the machine often produces false high positives. Many factors can influence how the Intoxilyzer interprets the alcohol content in a person’s breath, leading to several circumstances in which the machine’s results do not represent the suspect’s true BAC but rather an inflated BAC.
Without a competent defense lawyer to challenge these results, many people have been falsely convicted of drunk driving. Defense attorneys have spent decades trying to invalidate the results of machines like the Intoxilyzer in court and filed motions to prevent them from being allowed as evidence. Our firm’s very own Brian Gabriel has led a movement in Palm Beach County to toss the results of the Intoxilyzer due to the State’s improper approval of the machine after manufacturers made substantial changes to its design.
People Can Be Arrested for Blowing Below 0.08
All states have per se DUI laws that pertain to the level of alcohol in a driver’s blood. In most states, including Florida, that BAC is 0.08. A driver who produces a breath sample of 0.08 or higher in Florida will likely be arrested. A per se DUI is based on the alcohol content in your body alone, and a conviction for a per se DUI does not require proof of impairment.
Unfortunately, drivers may also be arrested for blowing below 0.08, making the results of a breath test seem insignificant. All it takes to be arrested for drunk driving is for the investigating officer to believe you were impaired.
A DUI arrest can have numerous negative effects, including job loss, being suspended from school, or even being prevented from applying to your university of choice. Your reputation instantly takes a hit even if you’re never convicted of drunk driving.
Measuring BAC Might Not Be the Best Way to Reduce Drunk Driving Deaths
When it comes right down to it, most DUI deaths are caused by a minority of drivers, many of them repeat DUI offenders. These drivers often have a BAC of above 0.08 and one or more prior convictions. It takes the average driver who drinks and drives 80 times before getting caught. Those who regularly drink and drive do so with a higher alcohol tolerance than the average person.
One of the biggest hurdles to reducing drunk driving deaths isn’t just catching drivers who are actually impaired but making sure they stay off the road. For many DUI offenders, being arrested isn’t enough to keep them from endangering lives. Those who are determined to drink and drive will do so with a higher tolerance for alcohol than the average person.
The Fight Against Unreliable Breath Test Results Has No End in Sight
DUI defense lawyers have a duty to protect their clients in court. Hundreds of DUI defendants face accusations due to faulty test results. The Intoxilyzer 8000 and many other breath test machines are overly-sensitive to the contents in a person’s breath. One of the main issues of this machine is that it often returns false readings for people who have a higher-than-average concentration of acetone in their breath. The machine picks up the acetone and reads it as ethanol, the type of alcohol found in hard drinks.
Those who may be at a high risk of a false BAC reading include:
- People who are fasting
- People with diabetes
- People who are dieting
The machine can also incorrectly read a person’s mouth alcohol. Mouth alcohol is any residual alcohol that stays in your mouth. To get a fair estimate of a BAC, the Intoxilyzer is supposed to measure the alcohol content coming from deep within your lungs, not what’s in your mouth. Mouth alcohol can come from:
- Breath mints
- Mouth wash
- Dental work
Also, belching, vomiting, chewing gum, and even smoking can cause alcohol vapors from your stomach to rise into your mouth, which can throw off the results of a breath test.
In many cases, all it takes is one breath test result of 0.08% or higher for the court to assume a person’s guilt. This occurs despite all the available evidence showing that the machines that produce these results are prone to several flaws. Lawyers often need to challenge these breath test results to provide a fair trial for their clients.
Don’t Trust Breathalyzers. Fight Your DUI in West Palm Beach
DUI is a serious misdemeanor offense that could impact several areas of your life even if you never get convicted. If you’re charged with DUI, the criminal charge will follow you for life. Your DUI could affect your ability to launch a successful career, establish fulfilling relationships, attend the school of your dreams, and more.
Don’t lose hope over the results of a BAC test. Now is the time to connect with a lawyer who holds an outstanding reputation for DUI defense. Attorney Brian Gabriel has represented DUI defendants throughout Palm Beach County for more than 30 years and is highly knowledgeable about the science behind breathalyzer test results. You can trust him to provide a strong case, personal attention, and quality service. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation or complete our contact form.