How accurate are Breathalyzer tests?

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2019 | dwi/dui

Nearly half of all alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents are caused by motorists with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.16% or more, which is double North Carolina’s 0.08% legal limit. While many of the motorists who cause these crashes are indeed intoxicated, it’s possible to end up with a high BAC without consuming much (or even any) alcohol. This may result being wrongly charged with DWI/DUI.

Breathalyzers are designed to pick up evidence of ethanol, a component of alcoholic beverages. They pick up other similarly structured methyl molecules as well, though. This is something that makes up to 80 percent of the compounds found in the human breath. It is not uncommon for Breathalyzers to incorrectly classify these compounds as ethyl alcohol. When this happens, someone may fail their Breathalyzer test.

Certain occupational or health concerns, environmental factors and dietary habits can increase an individual’s methyl molecule group percentage. Individuals who spend 20 minutes or more in a room with spray paint have been known to have abnormally high breath test percentages.

People who have consumed bread shortly before a Breathalyzer test have also faced the same fate. Diabetics often have high acetone levels in their blood. Many Breathalyzer tests will wrongly show that these individuals have consumed alcohol when they haven’t. Outdoor temperatures can affect Breathalyzer test results, too.

If you registered an illegal BAC as a result of something that you ate, due to a medical condition or occupational hazard, then you should consult with a DWI/DUI attorney who can advise you of your rights and present your case.