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Breathalyzers in Richmond DUI Cases

Law enforcement officers in Richmond, Virginia often use breathalyzers when they have pulled someone over on suspicion of driving under the influence or driving while impaired.

Below, learn more information about how these tests are administered, how reliable they are, and some common misconceptions about them. These tests play a large evidentiary role in the prosecution of a DUI charge. If you are concerned about your case and would like experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel for your defense, get in touch with a local Richmond lawyer as soon as you can.

Reliability of Breathalyzers in Richmond

The breathalyzer machine, or the Intoxilyzer as it is called, is a very reliable instrument. This is why it is used so often and why the courts rely on it. It is maintained regularly by the Department of Forensic Science who keep very detailed records of its maintenance.

History of Breathalyzer Accuracy

The breathalyzer has been used for quite some time in Richmond, probably more than 20 years. There are typically two to three machines that are in constant use in the city of Richmond. The machine is constantly maintained by the Department of Forensic Science which is also located in the city of Richmond.  The Department of Forensic Science has actually created what’s called the breath alcohol division for the strict maintenance of this machine.

Common Breathalyzer Misconceptions

One of the common misconceptions about breathalyzers in the city of Richmond is that they’re inaccurate and/or that you can beat the test. These machines have been tested over and over again and are regularly maintained so they are very, very accurate.

In addition, the machine’s accuracy is based on multiple tests. In other words, the court or the test operators will usually have you give various samples. All of these are used to determine the accuracy.

False Positives or Inaccuracy in Breathalyzer Tests

There are a few ways that this test can result an inaccurate score. One way is if the test provides what’s called an invalid sample. In other words, the machine is acting up. Another way is called breath alcohol. Breath alcohol occurs when you burp or in many cases with indigestion. This can create an elevated score.

Additionally, another issue that could come up is called ambient air. In other words, there might be alcohol in the air that the machine reads. All these things can create an erroneous or a higher sample.

Ambient air is not as common as it used to be because the machine has evolved over the years to deal with that. What the officers will typically do to avoid ambient air is that they will make sure the room where the machine is conducting the test is kept relatively free of additional ambient alcohol air. Also they have the individual conduct numerous tests. The officers monitor to make sure that the individual is not burping and that they are not expelling any alcohol but air.

Calibration of Breathalyzer Machines

The machines in Richmond need to be calibrated regularly. Typically they will be calibrated anywhere between 45 to 90 days. There should be a detailed record of testing. In addition, should there be multiple invalid samples or issues with the deviation or what is called the breath alcohol differential, then the test or the machine will have to be recalibrated. Again, the Department of Forensic Science actually does a very detailed job in conducting these tests and keeps a very detailed record of these tests which can be obtained.

The government experts are very much aware of the various issues that have been brought up with the machine. The machine continues to be used because of its accuracy and because these issues are not as common as individuals might think. So, this is the reason the machine is used to this day.

Challenging Erroneous Breathalyzer Results

You can challenge erroneous test results in court. If you can show that the machine was operated improperly and/or that the machine was not working correctly, in many cases, you can get a test result thrown out of court.

More Information About Breathalyzers

One of the benefits of having an attorney is that they know how to obtain information on the machine. After an attorney is retained, they can file a subpoena or Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the breath alcohol test information and machine maintenance records. This will show us how the machine was operating before and after your test. It will also show if there is any sort of differential in the machine. In addition, it will show the training of the individual who operated your machine and conducted your test.

A lot of people do not realize that the officers and/or test-giver have to be trained to use the machine and they have to keep their training current. All of these issues can go into how a DUI case is reviewed. If you can find an issue with how the machine was operating and/or an error in the machine’s read out, it can be very beneficial to your case.

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