Breathalyzers have long been the go-to device for checking sobriety on the spot, but their use has recently come under fire. If officers charged you with drinking and driving because of the digital readout, the little machine might have done you wrong.

Judges from two states have thrown out over 30,000 breath tests in the last year, for a wide range of reasons. Breathalyzers are facing increased scrutiny across the country, with the machines sometimes showing results that are 40% higher than what’s actually present.

Blowing the test

There are a few realistic ways that breathalyzers can fall short of providing reliable evidence:

  • Calibration: Designated, trained personnel have to regularly check the machine and adjust for accuracy in accordance with state laws. Anything short of that could render any evidence the machine delivers inadmissible in court.
  • Medical: Certain medical conditions can alter the readings on a breathalyzer. A person with diabetes, low blood sugar or that uses certain inhalers often see an increased likelihood that the test will be inaccurate.
  • Environmental: Hand sanitizers and breath fresheners can be alcohol-based a lot of the time, and they could show results that don’t line up with what’s in your bloodstream. Tests have even shown that being near wiper fluid can reliably skew the results from a breathalyzer.

You don’t want your fate to rest in the hands of an inaccurate test. Knowing the shortcomings of the machine could show you a path to the proper handling of your case.