Contact Us Today (424) 372-3112


Can You Challenge DUI Breathalyzer Results?

Posted by Philip Israels | Apr 30, 2019

Under California Vehicle Code 23152, it's unlawful to drive under the influence of alcohol. A driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher is considered to be driving under the influence. A DUI conviction can carry harsh legal penalties, including fines, probation, community service, the loss of your  driver's license, and jail time.

In Los Angeles County, there are thousands of driving under the influence cases filed every year.

Breathalyzer Exam

One of the primary factors taken into consideration in order to decide guilt by a prosecutor and jury is your breath test results at the time of arrest. A common method used by police to determine your blood alcohol concentration is performing a breathalyzer exam.

After you have been pulled over by police, you will be asked to perform some field sobriety tests, and they will administer this exam if they have reason to believe you were driving under the influence.

This exam consist of you breathing a continuous breath into the breathalyzer machine will analyzes your breath and then calculates your BAC. If you have a BAC above the legal limit of 0.08, you will be arrested at the scene on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Typically, a second breathalyzer exam is administered once you arrive at the police station. If you have a BAC over the legal limit, you should expect to be formally charged with driving under the influence. It's important to note that the second breathalyzer results are admissible at trial.

It's also important to note that a breathalyzer result over 0.08 does not guarantee you will be be convicted of DUI. Rather, you can challenge the results of the breathalyzer exam and might even win your case. If you have been arrested for suspicion of drunk driving, you need to have a lawyer review the details of your case in spite of any chemical test that were performed.

Breath tests results in DUI cases in Los Angeles are not an exact science and could be challenged by our attorneys. As stated above, the results of these breathalyzer exams are the primary factor used by prosecutors, judges, and a jury to convict people in driving under the influence cases.

How to Challenge the Results of a Breathalyzer

It's a common belief by many people who have been arrested for DUI that their results on the breathalyzer exam can't be challenged and their case is lost.  This is simply a common myth and had lead to countless individuals to be convicted of DUI over many years.

There are a variety of methods an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney can  challenge the results of a DUI breath test, depending on the specific details of your case. For example, we might be able to show to have a medical condition which caused the breathalyzer to show your BAC was higher than it actually was.

The final result of your DUI breath test is the stating point in your case it will determine the nature of your case.  We might be able to make valid legal defenses that could put the breath test examination into question and ultimately best your DUI case. Let's review the various common methods below on how to challenge results of a  breathalyzer exam.

Showing that Breathalyzers are not Reliable

It's typically accepted by experts who testify in DUI cases that the breath test machine used by police are not always accurate. These machines have an “error rate,” which means in a close case, this could be used by a lawyer to beat your case or at least used a a tool to negotiate with the prosecutor for favorable plea bargain. There have been published articles showing the breathalyzer machines are not always reliable.

In fact, some scientists have concluded that breathalyzers fail the legitimacy test. An experienced lawyer can challenge the breathalyzer results by showing the level of inaccurate results, meaning they simply lack reliability.

It should be noted that the DUI cases having the best chance of a favorable outcome using this type of challenge are the cases where the reading on the DUI breath test machine are close to the legal limit and when you were able to pass some field sobriety test.

When the DUI Breath Test was Administered 

Another method to challenge the DUI breath test results involves when the breath test was actually administered in relation to when the you were observed by police driving the vehicle. The primary factor in this challenge is not what your blood alcohol level was the time the breathalyzer exam was taken.

Rather, it's what your blood alcohol level was at the exact time your were driving a vehicle. This important question is relevant in finding you guilty of drunk driving. Clearly, the more time that has elapsed from the exact moment your DUI breath test was taken, the more difficult it becomes for the prosecutor to prove your actual blood alcohol level at the time you were driving.

It's important to note the breathalyzer exams are administered by arresting police officers, who were trained to give these exams. It's may be possible to argue the officer may have given you the breath test incorrectly or lacked adequate training.  We could challenge the results by showing a lack of training can produce inaccurate results. We could also argue that the breathalyzer was not properly calibrated and the results were inaccurate.

Challenge the Breathalyzer Test was an Illegal Search

Police officers are legally required to follow procedures when conducting a traffic stop. In other words, they must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over on a traffic stop, meaning they have to have probable cause that you were driving under the influence before they can administer a breathalyzer. If we can show the police officer didn't properly demonstrate both, the breathalyzer exam might be considered an illegal search.

Our Law Firm Can Review Your Case

Every person processes alcohol in different ways and there are many factors that influence the results of a DUI breath test. A few examples include height, weight, and what food they ate within the hours of drinking and driving. California is an implied consent state, meaning you will lose your license if you refuse to take a breathalyzer exam during a traffic stop.

Our law firm will aggressively defend you in your DUI case. We need to first closely examine all the specific details in order to develop an effective defense strategy. Contact us to learn how we can fight your driving under the influence charges. We can guide you through the DUI court process.

Related Content:

About the Author

Philip Israels

Phil Israels was raised in California's Central Valley where he still has family. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley where he was a member for Zeta Beta Tau fraternity and studied Economics, he continued his education...

Contact Us Today

Cron, Israels & Stark is committed to answering your questions about All Misdemeanor and Felony Crime law issues in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, California.

We offer a free consultation and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.