What to Do When You Think Your Breathalyzer Result Was Wrong

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2023 | Criminal Defense

When it comes to driving while intoxicated, law enforcement officers rely heavily on the results of breathalyzer tests. However, these machines aren’t perfect. They are machines and can malfunction like any other device, especially since law enforcement often doesn’t calibrate them or perform maintenance as often as they should. Due to this, breathalyzer tests don’t carry as much weight towards DWI cases as they used to. Now judges would prefer results from more accurate blood or urine testing.

If you were arrested for a DWI in Minnesota, if your only form of intoxication testing was a breathalyzer test, you should always pay attention to the results. Sometimes the wildly high results do not match the amount of alcohol that you had. One glass of wine an hour before being pulled over shouldn’t have you blowing a 1.1 or even above the .08 legal limit. Even if the numbers appear to match up, it strongly behooves your case if you and your lawyer pursue the validity of the breathalyzer machine as a defensive strategy.

What to Do If Your Breath Test Was Broken?

If you were given a breathalyzer test that lead to your DWI charge, whether the reading didn’t add up or seemed close enough, you should challenge it. If you seek to challenge the results, often much of the process lies with your lawyer, but it is up to you to start it. In order to challenge breathalyzer test results, first you should:

  • Make Sure it is on the Record – After the test is done, if the results seem a little skewed, you should be vocal about it. Make sure that you make it clear to the officer that you want that you believe the unit to be wrong in the report. If possible, ask them to include the device number in both the report and written down for you so you can use it look up last maintenance and calibration records later. Getting the device number is particularly important just so law enforcement doesn’t try to pass off another model later when asked to present what device was used.
  • Inform Your Lawyer – After your DUI charge, this will likely want to be one of the first issues that you bring up with your lawyer. An incorrect breathalyzer reading can literally break apart a case. If it can be proved that the breathalyzer reading was incorrect, that reading will have to be thrown out as evidence. Without a breathalyzer reading, there is no case against you as it cannot be proven that you were driving while intoxicated without evidence. This makes any potential malfunction your first and likely best defense strategy that your lawyer will want to pursue.
  • See the Unit Tested – The best way to prove a breathalyzer reading was incorrect is to test the breathalyzer against other models. Furthermore, if it was not correctly calibrated or did not go through the mandatory maintenance that these machines require, that alone can be enough to have the reading thrown out as evidence.

Need Help?

Have you been arrested for driving under the influence in Minnesota? While it is a common crime, the state takes these charges very seriously. While if it is your first DWI charge, the punishments are relatively minor, it is still a charge you do not want on your record. Furthermore, if you have multiple past DWI convictions on your record, the punishments ramp up very quickly. If you are looking at a DWI charge, contact us today. Don’t just accept a conviction that will follow you around for the rest of your life, let Villaume & Schiek fight for you.

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