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That breath test you were given might not be accurate

Were you pulled over and arrested on suspicion of drunk driving? Like law enforcement officials in most states, Washington police officers more than likely carry a portable breath testing (PBT) machine to help them determine whether your blood alcohol level was above the legal level of .08 percent.

Police probably based your arrest, at least in part, on the results of that test. However, research has shown that this is not a particularly accurate way to test for impairment. Only a blood test, which requires a clinical setting, provides truly accurate results. Therefore, even if the PBT indicates that you were driving above the legal limit, this might not be the end of the story.

So, what can skew the results of a PBT?

Some of the most common factors that cause false readings on PBT's are the same ones that your attorney will most likely look into when reviewing your case:

1. If the batteries in the PBT are not changed and the machine is not calibrated periodically, readings could be inaccurate.

2. PBT's rely on software, which anyone who owns a computer knows, does not always work in its intended manner.

3. The officer using the PBT might make a mistake.

4. Blowing into the machine only once might not provide an accurate result since it takes more than one test to find some sort of reliable result.

5. Some chemicals in the area where the testing is done could produce a false reading.

6. Any substance containing alcohol, such as mouthwash and breath fresheners, can also produce a false reading.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, can also cause test readings to be false.

What happens if there is evidence that the results were wrong?

If your attorney establishes that the results could have been inaccurate, the court might throw out the results of the PBT. How this affects the outcome of your case depends on the remaining evidence, but it is a good start. You and your attorney will discuss the options available to you and how to best proceed to increase your odds of achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

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Tim Kelly

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