D. Scott Rieth Criminal Defense Attorney
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Are breath test results always accurate?

A breath alcohol test is used to measure how much alcohol is in the air that is breathed out by an individual that is suspected of driving while intoxicated. Given this figure, the device then estimates how much alcohol is in one's blood. That number, the blood alcohol content or the BAC, is the number upon which most drunk driving convictions are based. In Florida, as in the rest of the country, a driver over the age of 21 cannot have a BAC higher than 0.08 percent.

There can be different types of tests for measuring blood alcohol level, both electronic and manual. Most law enforcement officials carry an electronic device-suspected drunk drivers breathe into the mouthpiece and the device gives an immediate reading. Generally, the person is asked to breathe into the device a couple of times to get an average reading.

Contrary to what many people believe, the device does not always give an accurate reading. Firstly, if someone had a drink 15 minutes before the test, trace amounts of alcohol in the mouth could lead to inaccuracy. Similarly, products that contain alcohol, such as mouthwash, can also throw off the results. Recalibrated devices or devices with replaced batteries can also give incorrect measurements. There are also a number of other factors that can affect one's BAC level, such as someone's weight, gender, how long one has been drinking and what one has been eating.

One of the most effective defenses one has against drunk driving charges is contesting the BAC test results. DUI and traffic offenses should be taken seriously, as their repercussions can be significant. Someone facing DUI charges should consider consulting an experienced attorney to discuss their options.

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D. Scott Rieth
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