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Challenging the results of your breathalyzer test

From the time we are children, we are taught to trust in the power of tests. The tests we take in school will determine our grades, whether or not we advance and whether or not we get into college. Similarly, we are taught to trust medical test results on face, never wondering if they are open to interpretation or questioning whether they are accurate.

Perhaps this is why few defendants think to challenge the results of their blood-alcohol concentration tests. These are tests of breath, blood or urine to determine a person’s level of alcohol intoxication. The most well-known of these tests, the breathalyzer, has been a law enforcement tool for decades. If test results show that a person’s BAC is at or above 0.08 percent, this is sometimes the only piece of evidence needed to secure a drunk driving conviction.

It is important to know that breathalyzer test results can be challenged and challenged successfully. The first question to explore: Was the device correctly calibrated and in proper working order? It is actually somewhat common for breath-testing devices to lose accuracy with regular use, which is why they must be properly maintained and recalibrated periodically.

Your defense attorney can take a close look at test results to determine if they may have been skewed by malfunctioning equipment. If needed, maintenance and calibration records for each device can be subpoenaed.

You can also challenge how the test was administered by the arresting officer. Does he or she have training necessary to conduct the tests properly? Did the officer miss a step or otherwise fail to follow testing protocol? Could other environmental factors at the time of the test have skewed the results?

There are a number of other challenges that can either invalidate or cast doubt upon breathalyzer test results. The point is that your fate is not necessarily sealed just because test results show that you were over the legal limit. In order to better understand your legal rights and defense options, please contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. 

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