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Defending Against a BAC Result

Posted on January 05, 2023 in Driving Under the Influence

Stamford, CT DUI attorneyOne of the important aspects of a drunk driving charge is the results of a breathalyzer test. These breath testing devices are small, hand-held devices that law enforcement uses to measure the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the person taking the test. The BAC is the percentage of ethanol or ethyl alcohol in the person’s blood. For example, if a person has a BAC of 0.08 percent, that means that for every 800 parts of blood, there is one part of alcohol. Under Connecticut law, a person is considered legally intoxicated if their BAC measures 0.08 percent or above.

Although law enforcement deems these devices critical to their case against someone with a DUI charge, many people do not realize just how unreliable these tests actually are and how easy it is for test results to be thrown off if certain factors exist.

Types of Breath Tests

There are three major types of breath tests that a police officer may use during a DUI stop. All three measure the BAC present in the individual’s lungs; however, each device does it in a different manner:

  • Optical test – Measures the BAC level based on change of color. As the individual breathes into the device, the alcohol on their breath reacts with chemicals that are contained in the device. If the red-orange color changes to green, that indicates the person has alcohol in their system. The device will then read the amount of that alcohol.

  • Infrared light test – This type of test uses infrared light to measure the BAC. Molecules absorb different wavelengths of infrared light and this device generates different wavelengths and then checks which are absorbed and reflected. The device then measures the BAC based on the absorption pattern.

  • Fuel cell test – This device uses fuel cells to measure the BAC. Alcohol stores energy that can be used to power a fuel cell. When the individual breathes into the device, into the cell, any alcohol in their system will generate an electric current. The more electricity they generate, the higher their BAC.

Factors That Can Affect Breathalyzer Tests

There are a number of factors and circumstances that can interfere with the results of breathalyzers. Certain medical conditions can give false readings of alcohol levels. For example, a person who has diabetes has an increased level of acetone in their blood. Acetone reacts the same way alcohol does in a breath test, showing a higher than legal BAC level, even if the individual has had no alcohol at all.

Certain medications can also give a false BAC level, including asthma inhalers, cold medications, and even mouthwash. Other factors that can affect the accuracy of BAC results include whether the officer conducting the test has been properly trained and whether the device itself is properly calibrated and in good working order.

Call a Fairfield County Defense Lawyer

If you have been arrested for drunk driving based on a failed BAC test, a guilty verdict and loss of license is not automatic. A skilled Stamford, CT DUI defense attorney has experience in preparing a defense against these charges, including whether or not BAC test results were accurate. Call Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner today at 203-348-5846 to schedule a free consultation.