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Get the facts on Breathalyzer calibration when facing DUI

If a Washington police officer pulls you over because he or she thinks you have been driving under the influence of alcohol, there are certain things you should know regarding your rights and what the legal implications of a Breathalyzer test might be. Breathalyzer is the brand name of a breath analysis device authorities use to make a preliminary assessment of the amount of alcohol in your system when they suspect you of driving under the influence. Refusing a Breathalyzer or other chemical test can have major repercussions. 

In most states, if you test at .08 blood alcohol content or higher on a Breathalyzer, the law presumes you are intoxicated and therefore prohibited from operating a motor vehicle. However, so much can go wrong with Breathalyzer tests, and if the device the test giver used on you was not properly calibrated, it can skew the test results, which can land you in a heap of legal trouble. It's always good to be prepared to defend yourself by knowing your rights and how to access support in a pinch. 

Understanding the calibration factor 

State laws regarding Breathalyzer calibration vary, the bottom line being that an improperly calibrated device can cause incorrect test results. The following list includes basic guidelines most courts follow when determining whether Breathalyzer results are admissible as DUI evidence in court: 

  • Only certain breath-test devices qualify for use as evidence. Breathalyzer is a brand name of one such device.  
  • Not just any person can administer your Breathalyzer test. In fact, the person who gives you the test must be able to show certification for doing so.  
  • Even if the person administering your test is properly certified, reliable results depend on his or her acting in accordance with appropriate training techniques.  
  • Breathalyzer devices only function properly if those using them regularly check them and recalibrate as needed.  
  • You must take a Breathalyzer test more than once within a certain amount of time, and the results must be within .02 of each other for the court to consider it evidence worthy. 

Do you know if you happen to smoke a cigarette, burp or eat something just before taking a Breathalyzer test, it can negatively impact the results of your test? That may not seem like a major problem at first until you consider the fact that positive test results (even if they are inaccurate) may lead to facing DUI charges in a Washington criminal court.  

How to avoid consequences of an improperly calibrated device 

While you want to try to remain calm and cooperate as much as possible if a police officer places you under DUI arrest, you can also take swift action to access support to fight against charges you believe are erroneous.

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Tim Kelly Attorney At Law
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