The Truth About DUI Breath Tests


Not all breathalyzers are created equal.

When you were arrested for DUI, you might remember the police officer asking you to breathe into a machine called a Breathalyzer. That machine gave you a number, and that number, whatever it is, now holds the key to your future.

Which is probably why they call it the “magic number?”

Except it isn’t exactly magic – it’s science. The number is your B.A.C., or Blood Alcohol Concentration—and it indicates how much alcohol was detected in your bloodstream when you were arrested. Well, to be more specific, it indicates what the machine that tested your blood or breath determined to be your B.A.C.

That “magic number” is important because it also determines what category of impairment you fall into, and what kind of punishment you’ll face. For example, a magic number from .08 to .099% means you will be charged in category known as “generally impaired.” For a magic number from 0.10, to 0.16, you’ll be charged in the category known as “highly impaired.” And if your magic number is at least 0.16, you’ll be charged in the category known as “highest impairment.”

And the bottom lines is, no matter what category your “magic number” puts you in, as long as it says you were impaired at all, you will face a DUI charge. And if you are convicted of DUI, that conviction goes on your permanent record – it never goes away.

Of course, you might feel like there’s nothing you can do. It’s pretty hard to fight with a number.

Well, it’s definitely hard for you. But for an aggressive, experienced DUI attorney, it’s just part of a day’s work.

How can an attorney help you fight a DUI? It starts with the machines. We all know that machines can make mistakes. From your car to your computer to your coffee maker, chances are you’ve had a machine malfunction, or mess up, at some point in your life. DUI attorneys know that Breathalyzer and blood test machines are just like any other machine – they mess up too.

There can be problems with what’s called “calibration” – which essentially means the way machines are adjusted to make sure they pick up tiny amounts of things. Blood test machines are must as sensitive and temperamental. And of course, you need to operate such sensitive machines the “right way” – a human error made by the police officer who administers the test, or even a lab that reads the results, could lead to a “magic number” that is actually a wrong number. You can also have substances in your system that are perfectly legal, but also affect the results of blood or breath tests.

It can happen. A machine can say that you are legally impaired when you actually are not. Which means that even an incorrect magic number has the power to ruin your life!

But how could you possibly prove that by yourself?

Of course, even if your B.A.C. number is 100% correct, that alone is not enough to prove you are guilty. “Errors in roadside procedure,” mistakes made by police when or after they pull you over, can take away the magic of your magic number. Anything from the police stopping you for a reason that isn’t valid, a too-short observation period, and failure to read certain warnings…they can turn your number from magic to meaningless.

Still, how would you know? When the police pulled you over, it’s likely you had no idea if they followed the proper procedures, or if their machines were in perfect working order.

However, an experienced DUI attorney will know. It’s his or her job to know. And, if your attorney has the right combination of skills, experience and guts, he or she will be use that knowledge to tell your side of the story, to fight for your rights, and maybe, in some cases, to beat the charges against you.

It all comes down to “forensic science.” This is the science of law: looking at all the different facts of a case, including the numbers on a test, the statements of the officers, even the time of day, and finding where the state’s case against you might be weak. And where you might be able to win.

Whatever your “magic number” is, don’t give up and plead guilty. Talk to the DUI attorneys at The McShane Firm first. With some of America’s foremost forensic science experts on our team, we can help you fight back. Contact us today for your free consultation.

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