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Factors That Impact The Accuracy of a Breath Test

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2017 | Drunk Driving


Seeing those blue lights spinning in your rear-view mirror leads to anxiety for almost anyone, even if you have not consumed any alcohol and are, by all accounts, closely following the rules of the road.

If a law enforcement official pulls you over and he or she believes you may be impaired as a result of alcohol, he or she may administer a breath test using a device commonly known as a breathalyzer. Breathalyzers are not always accurate, however. There is a number of factors that can throw off the results of a breath test and lead the device to show that you are intoxicated even if you may not be. Given the severity of the punishments associated with drinking and driving, it is important to recognize what the factors are that have the potential to impact your breath test and your life.

Burping, Smoking or Vomiting


Burping, smoking and vomiting all have the potential to render the results of your breath test inaccurate. Law enforcement officials are trained to know this, which is why they must watch you closely after pulling you over to make sure you do none of these actions. In the event that you do, authorities must then wait about 20 minutes before they can lawfully test you again.

Improperly Calibrated or Administered Devices


Anyone who administers a breath test must be properly trained to do so. An administrator must also use a preapproved device, and it must have been calibrated and checked for accuracy at regular, predetermined intervals. If these criteria are not met, the results of the breath test may be thrown out.

Environmental Factors and Considerations


Certain environmental factors also have the potential to impact the results of your breath test and produce a false-high reading. Some people have had their breathalyzer test results tossed because of the presence of electronic interference, which may stem from cellphone signals, radio towers and more.

Others have demonstrated that their test results were impacted because of the presence of certain paint fumes or paints. Some plastic materials and chemical compounds also have been cited as affecting the accuracy of a breathalyzer, so any of these factors ultimately have the potential to produce a false reading.


The penalties for drinking and driving are considerable and harsh, and this holds true even for those who are first-time offenders. If you are facing a drunk driving charge and feel your breath test results were inaccurate, you should contact Travis Noble


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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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