When it comes to DUI cases, no two are alike. Many of them, however, do have something in common: the involvement of a breathalyzer. A DUI conviction can cost $20,000 or more, and understanding the technicalities that come with the use of a breathalyzer as a test of blood alcohol content can help you to work with a DUI attorney in Clackamas County to navigate through your DUI case. Here are some answers to common questions regarding the use of a breathalyzer in a DUI case.
Are breathalyzers actually accurate/reliable?
Most DUI lawyers can tell you that even though breathalyzers have been used in countless DUI cases and subjected to years of research, their technology isn't perfect. During its initial development and testing stages in 1985, Dr. Michael Hlastala, Professor of Physiology, Biophysics and Medicine at the University of Washington considered them to be inherently inaccurate, and therefore unreliable.
"Even if the breath testing instrument is working perfectly, physiological variables prevent any reasonable accuracy. Breath testing for alcohol using a single test method should not be used for scientific, medical or legal purposes where accuracy is important," wrote Dr. Hlastala in Physiological Errors Associated with Alcohol Breath Testing.
This is essentially the reason many states require the administration of more than one type of sobriety tests. It doesn't mean breathalyzers are completely inaccurate, but it suggests that there are a number of variables associated with their use.
Are there are rules set in place regarding the use of breathalyzers by law enforcement?
Many are unaware that law enforcement officials must follow a specific process when administering a breathalyzer test. Dr. Kurt Dubowski, longterm advocate for reducing error sources in breathalyzer testing, identified four key "safeguards" that must be in place for a breathalyzer reading to be considered accurate, including a "pre-test deprivation-observation period" of at least 15 minutes, the administration of blank tests prior to each breath sample, the analysis of two separate but consecutive samples, and a suitable control test that determines a base level. Without these four safeguards, any breathalyzer test can have at least a small margin of error.
Ultimately, understanding how breathalyzers are used in DUI cases can help you understand your rights. Of course, it's always best to visit a DUI attorney in Clackamas County to consult knowledgeable for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding your case. For more information about DUI cases, consult Rhett Bernstein, the most reliable DUI attorney in Clackamas County.