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Is the Breathalyzer test for a DUI charge always accurate?

If a law enforcement officer stops you on suspicion of drunk driving, he or she will probably ask you to take a breath test. You may not want to submit to the Breathalyzer, but refusal to do so comes with serious consequences.

The Breathalyzer is a piece of equipment that measures the blood alcohol content in your body, but is this machine always accurate?

The Philadelphia breath test issue

In 2016, the outcome of hundreds of DUI cases in Philadelphia was in danger of adverse outcomes because of an odd incident concerning Breathalyzers. A private attorney discovered that the calibration date on machines used by the police department had expired. The agency had to take the machines out of service so that they could replace the bottled solution used to establish blood alcohol readings.

Allowing the solution to expire was a matter of human error, the police department insisted, but it shows how such an oversight could affect a DUI case. An attorney could say that the reading from a Breathalyzer in which the calibration had expired might not be admissible in court.

Consequences of a failed test

A criminal defense attorney will tell you that in the state of Maryland, a law enforcement officer can confiscate your driver's license if you do not consent to take a breath test, or if you fail one. If you consent to take the test and your BAC is between 0.08 and 0.14 percent, and you are a first offender, you could face a license suspension of 180 days. If you refuse to take the test, the suspension can be as much as 270 days.

You have the right to an administrative hearing to state why your license should not be suspended. Your attorney can explain the particulars and see that you are prepared for this important hearing, which will have an impact on the rest of your case for DUI. There are various reasons why you may have failed or refused a breath test. A Breathalyzer malfunction may be among them.

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

Law Offices of James N. Papirmeister, Esq.
8630 Fenton St., Suite 320
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Office Number: 301-589-2100
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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013