Breath tests can be used by a police department to measure a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). For most drivers, there is a legal limit of 0.08%. If a driver’s BAC goes over this number, the results of the breath test can be used in court so that the state can presume that the driver was impaired. That driver may claim that they could still drive safely, but anyone who breaks this strict limit is technically in violation of the law.
Therefore, the results of a breath test are incredibly important. If it gives a false positive or a reading that is much too high, that situation could send someone to jail. As a result, there are specific breath-testing devices that have been approved, and only these devices can be used during traffic stops and in the wake of crashes. This is also why consumers cannot use the results of personal breath tests that they may have purchased online to dispute accounts in court. Not all breath tests are approved for legal use and only those that are can serve as evidence in a traffic-related criminal matter.
6 standards these tests must meet
The U.S. Department of Transportation has put together a list of six different standards that an evidential breath testing (EBT) device must meet. Devices will only be approved for official use if they can:
- Be externally calibrated to ensure that the results are correct.
- Test an air blank.
- Distinguish acetone from alcohol, even at very low concentration levels like 0.02%.
- Generate results in triplicate, meaning that three copies are provided.
- Automatically give each test its own number so that the results can be connected to the proper case and the correct driver.
- Display the serial number, the name of the device and the time that the test was taken on each result.
If a device doesn’t meet these qualifications, it may not provide enough information to be used in court. For instance, if the test number isn’t printed, it’s difficult for the court to distinguish if results even apply to a particular individual driver. If the device can’t be calibrated on a set schedule, it’s impossible for the police to know if the results are even accurate to begin with.
Criminal defense options
Those who are facing drunk driving allegations may believe that the results of a breath test are questionable. It’s crucial that they understand exactly what criminal defense options they have available as a result. Seeking legal guidance can provide necessary clarity and support in this regard.