Officers may stop a suspected drunk driver over in New York City, New York to check them for intoxication. After conducting field tests, they commonly order a breathalyzer. A breathalyzer requires a breath sample from the driver, but it isn’t always accurate.
The device is not calibrated
Most all states require the calibration, or periodic testing, of breathalyzer devices to ensure they give accurate results. If the device is not properly maintained and tested, it increases the chance of false results.
The person calibrating the test should be certified for that device, and the device must be an acceptable brand. Criminal defense for the DUI case may request the calibration records to determine if it has been tested.
Illegal traffic stop
An officer needs reasonable suspicion, not a hunch, to pull a driver over to check them for DUI. For example, speeding, constant swerving, and running a stop sign are legal reasons to pull a driver over.
Another element needed to make an arrest is probable cause, which means gathering proof of intoxication. Some evidence may include slurred speech, poor balance, alcohol smells, field sobriety tests, or open bottles. If these elements are lacking, the court could declare the results inadmissible and dismiss the case.
Medical conditions and other considerations
Certain medical conditions are known to cause false breathalyzer results, such as diabetes and acid reflux. These conditions produce extra acetones, which are chemicals with alcoholic properties, the breathalyzer reads as positive.
Drivers who follow a keto diet could also have a higher level of acetones because the body starts using fat for energy. Many everyday products have alcoholic properties that may skew the breathalyzer, such as mouthwashes and colognes.
Refusing a breathalyzer comes with an automatic license suspension. This suspension could be challenged, however.