Breathalyzer Drawbacks

by JoelHeiligmanLaw on November 15, 2012

Unfortunately, the breathalyzer (the most commonly used weapon that puts drivers behind bars) was built off flawed principles. It is the assumption that every human body is the same. Looking around, that is far from the truth. There are many factors that contribute to ones Blood Alcohol Content level.

It is assumed that each body has proportionately the same quantity of red blood cells (45%) per volume. The fact is, red blood cell quantity can range from 38% to 54% between men and women. There are also a number of physical conditions that are major factors, which can affect red blood cell counts. Conditions like blood loss and malnutrition can result in a lesser percentage of red blood cells. At any rate, if a person’s red blood cell count differs from the presumed 45%, it will result in an inaccurate reading.

Another assumption that the breathalyzer depends on for accuracy is a person’s body temperature. 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is assumed on all tests, which is again, false. Having an illness, a higher metabolism, or taking certain prescriptions can change someone’s body temperature. If one’s body temperature is higher than the average 98.6 degrees, this can yield a higher BAC level.

The last false assumption that the modern day breathalyzer makes is that there is a 2100 to 1 ratio of blood to alcohol that can be taken from a sample of someone’s breath.  If a person has just half of those assumed molecules in any given sample of breath, then the result could read as being twice of what your BAC actually is. For example, someone who has a 1050 to 1 ratio (half of what the breathalyzer is programmed to read) than the reading could be .08% when in fact it was only .04%. In that case, it is easy to see how an under-the-limit driver could be wrongly charged with a DUI or DWI.

Those are just the primary reasons why breathalyzers should not be the ideal method for prosecuting drivers who have alcohol in their systems. The most accurate method is to test actual blood samples for alcohol, which is scientifically preferred to determine BAC. Unfortunately, the costs are much greater than breath testing. As the flawed method is still accepted in DWI prosecutions, the best prevention from being wrongly accused of drunk driving is to not drive after having even just one drink. If you or someone you know is facing charges of a DUI or DWI, find an experienced defense attorney who specializes in these cases. For more information please contact Joel Heiligman, a Minneapolis defense attorney who is ready to fight back and get results.


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