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Breathalyzer Accuracy: Can I Challenge the Results in Minnesota?

by Oct 17, 2023Criminal Defense Attorney, DWI / DUI, Kevin Sieben

In Minnesota, as in many states, a breathalyzer test is a standard tool used by law enforcement to measure a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) during a traffic stop. While these devices are designed to provide accurate readings, they are not infallible. Understanding your rights and the potential inaccuracies associated with breathalyzer tests is crucial, especially if you find yourself facing a DWI charge based on the results. In this guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of breathalyzer accuracy in Minnesota, and the avenues available to challenge the results if you believe they are erroneous. Remember, being informed about your rights can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

Understanding the Breathalyzer Process

Before delving into the potential inaccuracies of breathalyzer tests, it’s essential to grasp how they function. These devices estimate your blood alcohol content (BAC) by measuring the amount of alcohol in your breath. When you consume alcohol, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream through the walls of your stomach and small intestine. As your blood circulates through your lungs, some of the alcohol is transferred into the air sacs, or alveoli, in your lungs. When you exhale, this alcohol is expelled in your breath.

However, it’s crucial to note that breathalyzers do not directly measure the alcohol in your bloodstream. Instead, they provide an indirect estimation based on the alcohol content in your breath. This process introduces an element of potential error, as individual physiological factors can influence the results. For instance, variations in body temperature can affect the rate at which alcohol is metabolized and transferred from the bloodstream to the breath. Similarly, breathing patterns, such as rapid or irregular breathing, can impact the concentration of alcohol detected in the breath sample.

Common Sources of Inaccuracy

Breathalyzer tests, while widely used, are not foolproof. Several factors can lead to inaccurate readings. It’s essential to be aware of these potential sources of error when facing a DWI charge based on breathalyzer results.

Calibration Issues: Like any measuring instrument, breathalyzers require regular calibration to maintain accuracy. If a device is not calibrated correctly or on time, it can yield unreliable results.

Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, like acid reflux or diabetes, can potentially lead to falsely high BAC readings.

Environmental Factors: Environmental factors such as residual mouth alcohol from belching, mouthwash, or even exposure to certain chemicals can skew the results.

Breathing Patterns: Rapid or irregular breathing patterns can affect the accuracy of a breathalyzer test.

Device Malfunction: Breathalyzer devices, like any electronic equipment, can experience technical malfunctions that affect their accuracy.

Challenging Breathalyzer Results in Minnesota

Challenging breathalyzer results is a crucial aspect of mounting a strong defense against a DWI charge in Minnesota. While breathalyzer tests are commonly used to estimate blood alcohol content (BAC), they are not infallible. In addition to the common sources of accuracy listed above, here are several potential avenues for challenging the results.

Operator Error: The person administering the test must be properly trained and follow specific procedures. If there are indications of operator error, such as improper instructions or failure to observe the testing process, it can be grounds for challenging the result.

Mouth Alcohol Contamination: Residual alcohol in the mouth can produce falsely high BAC readings. This can occur if a person burps, regurgitates, or consumes alcohol-containing substances just before the test.

Individual Physiology: People have varying physiological characteristics. Factors such as body temperature, lung capacity, and metabolism can influence breathalyzer results.

Rising BAC: If a person consumes alcohol shortly before or during the time of the test, their BAC may still be rising. In such cases, the breathalyzer reading may not accurately represent the BAC at the time of driving.

To successfully challenge breathalyzer results, it’s essential to work with an experienced DWI defense attorney. They can evaluate the specific circumstances of the test, scrutinize the device’s maintenance records, and potentially consult with experts to build a strong defense strategy. By understanding the potential inaccuracies of breathalyzer tests, individuals facing DWI charges can better navigate their legal options and work towards the best possible outcome for their case.

DWI Defense Attorneys in MN

Understanding the nuances of breathalyzer accuracy and the potential sources of error is vital when facing a DWI charge in Minnesota. Remember, challenging breathalyzer results is a complex legal process that requires the guidance of a seasoned attorney. They can guide you through the necessary steps to ensure your rights are protected and advocate for the best possible outcome in your case. Don’t hesitate to seek professional legal advice if you believe the breathalyzer results in your DWI case are questionable.

At Sieben Edmunds Miller, we understand the complexities and nuances involved in DWI cases, especially when it comes to challenging breathalyzer results. Our experienced team of attorneys is dedicated to examining every facet of your case, from calibration records to operator training, to ensure that your rights are protected. We leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of justice for our clients. If you’re facing DWI charges and have concerns about breathalyzer accuracy, trust us to provide the thorough, strategic defense you need. With a track record of successful outcomes and a commitment to unwavering advocacy, we stand by your side, offering you the support necessary to navigate the legal process effectively. Your rights matter, and we’re here to protect them.

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