Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is dangerous and highly illegal. If the police pull you over on suspicion of a DUI, they will likely administer a preliminary breath test (PBT). The PBT is a small electronic device that tests a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Any reading over 0.08 results in an arrest.
PBT results are inadmissible in court, so law enforcement will take a proper breathalyzer sample at the police station to collect definitive evidence. You have the right to refuse to take a PBT or other field sobriety test at the roadside, but this usually results in an arrest and official breathalyzer test at the station.
While there is some margin of error in Mecklenburg County DUI breathalyzers, they are generally considered fairly reliable instruments that carry substantial weight as evidence in Mecklenburg County courts. If you have been charged with a DUI and were given a breath alcohol test, an experienced DUI attorney could ensure that your rights were respected during the testing process and formulate a strong defense.
The breathalyzer most commonly used in Mecklenburg has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.02. Multiple tests are usually performed after a DUI arrest to minimize the chance of possible errors and obtain a more consistent number. In general, breathalyzers are considered highly accurate, and it is rare that their accuracy is successfully challenged.
Although breathalyzer machines are usually quite accurate, there are certain confounding variables that could taint a test. The presence of mouth alcohol could contaminate any breath sample. Consequently, when a breathalyzer is administered, there is a 20-minute observation period where law enforcement watches the driver ensuring there is no vomiting, burping, or consumption of food or drink that could contaminate the sample.
Breathalyzer machines must be calibrated regularly and correctly to guarantee they produce accurate samples. These calibrations are generally done every six months.
Government experts rely on breathalyzer machines because despite occasional issues, they tend to be the most reliable measure of the presence of alcohol in a driver’s system and judges still routinely give substantial weight to breathalyzer readings.
In every case, there are specific facts that could determine whether a suppression motion would be warranted for a breathalyzer result. Depending on those specific facts, a DUI attorney could move that the court have the certificate produced from a breathalyzer machine suppressed so it is not considered evidence in the case. If there is a substantial reason to believe that the results were faulty or gave a false positive, a determined DUI lawyer could argue to the judge why that test was incorrect, usually that the machine was calibrated incorrectly or too infrequently.
It is important to understand that while breathalyzers are given substantial weight by the courts, they are not wholly infallible. In every DUI case, it is possible that issues will arise that could lead to a change in how the evidence is used. If you are currently facing drunk driving charges that use the evidence collected from a Mecklenburg County DUI breathalyzer test, you may need a lawyer to help you build a strong defense case. Call today to schedule a confidential consultation on your case.
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