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Breath Test

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Definition - What does Breath Test mean?

Breath tests are the most common tests done to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol. Breath tests, which demonstrate the driver has a BAC or blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, can provide presumptive evidence to the court that a driver is intoxicated, requiring the driver to disprove the evidence against them.

The most common breath test machine which is currently used by law enforcement officers to detect the level of alcohol present in a driver's blood is the Preliminary Breath Tests (PBTs). This device is handheld and portable which allows officers to have it on the scene and use it prior to a DUI arrest. The results of the PBT machine are not admissible in court but may provide enough evidence for the police officer to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest.

Another type of breath test machines that does produce results that are admissible in court is called evidentiary breath machines and can include the Intoxilizer, DataMaster, or the DataMaster CDM. These breath test machines are much larger and are not portable.

Breath tests are not 100% accurate. Many factors can influence the accuracy of these tests including:

  • The suspect may have health limitations including: gastric reflux, hiatal hernia or intestinal problem, Acid Reflux Syndrome, respiratory problem such as emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • The suspect has recently been exposed to a variety of fumes including: lacquer, gasoline, paint, dry cleaning fluids.
  • Officer was not trained or marginally trained in accordance with the standards for administering a breath test.
  • The blood alcohol concentration testing results were not obtained within the statutorily imposed timeframe
  • The law enforcement officer committed a crime which could include any of the following: obstruction of justice, perjury, concealing evidence, or arresting the driver without probable cause.

Many more reasons may exist for failing a breath test. Contact a DUI lawyer in your state who is familiar with DUI laws and who can review your DUI case.

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