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3 reasons a breath test may be wrong

Posted on in OWI

You did drink a little bit before getting behind the wheel. You had a glass of wine with dinner. However, it was just one glass, you never even felt buzzed, and you ate an entire meal. You didn't think you were impaired and assumed your Blood Alcohol Concentration was pretty close to zero.

However, when the police pulled you over for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, you told the officer you'd had a drink. You wanted to be honest and didn't think you were drunk, not by a long shot. The officer asked to do a breath test, and you agreed to it, figuring it was the fastest way to get done and on your way home.

Then you blew a 0.09.

You felt shocked. The police arrested you and charged you with drunk driving. You understood why -- you'd seen those results -- but what you didn't know was how you could possibly be anywhere close to the limit, let alone over it. You think the test must have been wrong.

Don't assume there's nothing to do or that you just have to accept the test. You do have options. For instance, here are three reasons a test may be wrong or unreliable.

1. No one trained the officer.

Police can't just hand out breath tests to untrained officers and expect them to know how to use them. Maybe no one trained the officer on that specific test, he or she made a mistake, and you appeared over the limit as a result.

2. The testing device itself is unreliable.

Officers have specific tests they're supposed to use, and some brands aren't reliable. If the department failed to buy the right brand, you could argue that the court can't trust the results.

3. No one calibrated the test.

A breath test isn't accurate forever. Officers have to do routine maintenance. They have to calibrate the tests. Officers who neglect to do this on the proper schedule may have devices that can't offer accurate results, even when used properly.

These are three reasons you can claim the test itself failed. However, it's also important to note that there are other ways to challenge the charge.

For example, when you get your court date, you can try to question the officer in court. In some cases, officers don't go to court dates, and there's a chance you could have those questionable results thrown out. You may also argue that there wasn't a reason to stop you in the first place. Maybe you think you didn't roll through that stop sign, and you think the police randomly pulled you over and lied about the reason why. Without reasonable suspicion, they can't make that stop.

All cases are different, but this helps to show why you don't have to assume a breath test is accurate or simply accept the DUI charges.

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