A false positive breath test happens when someone’s breathalyzer test shows a blood alcohol level above the legal limit when the person is sober. If someone is not drunk, they should not be held accountable by law enforcement or charged with driving under the influence (DUI), but a false positive can complicate the matter.
A breath test is one of the most accurate ways to determine whether you’ve had too much to drink or not, but it can also result in false positives. Breathalyzers work by measuring the amount of alcohol in your breath and then inferring the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream to see if you’re drunk or not.
But what exactly happens when the police give you this test?
What can they legally say or do during the process?
More importantly, what does this mean for you and your DUI case?
The best DUI lawyer in Spartanburg, South Carolina from the Bateman Law Firm will give answers to these questions and more, like how you can reduce your penalties if convicted of driving under the influence, and how to defend against false charges.
What Is A PBT/Breathalyzer?
A PBT, or preliminary breath test, is designed to detect alcohol in your system. It’s a legal requirement for anyone over 18 years of age. At most international airports, for example, you must blow into such an instrument before being allowed past security. But don’t worry – if you haven’t had any alcohol (or at least very little), it won’t register as anything other than negative.
The device will either beep or display a 0 on its screen. If you have consumed alcohol within 8 hours, however, there will be some trace amount detected and displayed by your machine. You may also see 0.08% BAC displayed on some devices (or higher), i.e., 0.08% blood-alcohol concentration – this is the legal limit for 21+ years old individuals.
How Accurate Is The Breath Test?
The PBT (preliminary breath test) involves blowing into a hand-held device, usually called an alcometer or breathalyzer. This initial reading is called a ‘qualifying’ reading because it allows officers in some states to demand that you provide further blood or urine tests to measure your BAC.
Some police officers may demand further testing even if they do not get a qualifying reading from your PBT. If you refuse to take any further tests after taking a preliminary breath test, your license will be suspended for at least 12 months and up to 3 years. In addition, refusing to take a blood or urine test carries an automatic fine of $600-$1,000 and one year’s license suspension.
Why Should You Be Concerned About False Positives?
One of the reasons we should be concerned with a positive result on an alcohol breath test machine is that most states have zero-tolerance laws in place. If someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above 0.08%, they could face severe penalties for a DUI conviction, such as fines and jail time.
A breath test is admissible in court, but it doesn’t always give accurate results. False positives can be caused by mouth alcohol, which occurs when you have alcohol in your mouth from your last drink before blowing it into the machine. Another common reason is if you breathe slowly while taking the test. The machine may give such a reading even if you have no alcohol in your system – due to medical conditions, improper calibration, etc.
What Are The Consequences Of Having A False Positive Reading On A Breath Test?
In some cases, a police officer may issue you with an on-the-spot fine for driving with over 0.02% BAC, regardless of whether or not they have reasonable grounds for believing that your ability to drive has been impaired by alcohol. This often happens when alcohol is present in your system at very low levels, even though it has no discernible effect on your driving ability.
If you get a false positive reading on a preliminary breath test, you could be fined $500, and your license could be suspended for up to 6 months. You could also face demerit points (up to 4) and have your car impounded for up to 30 days if caught driving with a suspended license (due to the aforementioned false positive reading on a PBT.)
At What Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) Do You Need To Worry About False Positive Readings?
The short answer: don’t worry about it.
The long answer: there is always a chance that when your (false) BAC reading is above 0.08%, you’ll be charged with drunk driving even if you are not drunk at all.
Or, if you were drinking alcohol, let’s say on an empty stomach, then there might be a higher BAC reading for your system than what should correspond to the amount that you consumed within an hour or two before being tested by a police officer. Simply put – the reading can be higher (than what it should’ve been) if you consumed alcohol on an empty stomach.
This can result in a false reading from any alcohol testing device. To avoid these false readings, remember to wait a few hours after finishing your last drink before driving home, or don’t drink at all when you have to drive afterward. It is also important to consider how much food you eat along with your drinks; consuming food with each alcoholic beverage will help slow down how quickly alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream.
The Problem With Breathalyzers
Police use breathalyzers to test motorists suspected of being under alcohol. The breath sample is then analyzed, and if it meets or exceeds what’s known as 0.08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) – the legal limit for drivers in most states – the driver can be charged with drunk driving and face criminal penalties.
But does a false positive result from a breath test mean an innocent person will be charged with DUI and possibly face jail time?
According to some recent cases: yes!
Seek The Help Of A Criminal Defense Attorney In Spartanburg, South Carolina Without Delay!
There have been cases of false positive breath tests in South Carolina. Although they aren’t very common, odds are that you may be facing such a predicament yourself. If something like this happens to you or your loved one, it’s best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Spartanburg, South Carolina from the Bateman Law Firm to help escape the penalties. You don’t deserve to face all the consequences of a faulty breathalyzer.
Don’t delay matters a bit, contact the best DUI lawyer in Spartanburg, South Carolina for legal representation and to avoid all the drama!