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What you should know about Breathalyzers

When a police officer asks someone to submit to a breath test to determine his or her blood alcohol concentration, the test is carried out on a breath testing device commonly called a Breathalyzer. Courts accept the results of this test as evidence of a person's BAC, but the police department has to show that the machine can produce results that are reliable.

The most common challenge to the Breathalyzer is whether the machine was working properly when the test was given. Breathalyzers must be calibrated regularly, and there is regular maintenance required, too. The basic guidelines for calibration and maintenance are:

-- The device is listed as an acceptable device

-- A check for accuracy must be completed at regularly set intervals

-- In order to administer the test, the person has to be certified on the device.

-- In order to administer the test, the person has to make sure the defendant doesn't eat, vomit, burp, regurgitate or smoke beforehand.

-- Two readings must be obtained with results that are within .02 of each other.

A defense attorney can subpoena the records for the device, showing when it was last calibrated. It is possible that the records could show that the machine was not calibrated as it was supposed to be.

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, it's important to begin building your defense strategy as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can work to discredit the results of the Breathalyzer. If successful, the prosecution would have to rely on other evidence to prove to the court that you were intoxicated.

Source: FindLaw, "Breathalyzer Calibration," accessed Oct. 14, 2016

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