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Defending Against Breathalyzer Test Results in a Tennessee DUI Case

 Posted on March 27,2022 in DUI/DWI/BUI

Knoxville DUI defense lawyerOne of the most common pieces of evidence used by prosecutors in DUI cases is the result of the defendant’s breathalyzer test. However, a skilled Knox County defense attorney knows that it is not uncommon for breathalyzers to give false readings. While breathalyzer testing is more accurate than other subjective field sobriety tests, breathalyzer tests can still be incorrect or inaccurate.

Breathalyzer Testing

When you are pulled over and the police officer has probable cause that you have been drinking, the officer can administer a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer test is a chemical test that assesses how much alcohol vapor is on the breath of the individual taking the test. This data generally correlates to an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level.

Tennessee is an implied consent state, meaning that by accepting a driver’s license that grants them the right to operate a vehicle, a driver automatically consents to be subjected to chemical testing when suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. Individuals do have a right to refuse a breathalyzer test, but there are steep consequences for refusal.

Under the law, when a person refuses to take a breathalyzer test, they may face losing their license for 12 months. If they had a prior DUI conviction, the suspension is for 24 month. This loss of license occurs regardless of the outcome of any DUI criminal case filed against the driver.

Why Can Breathalyzer Test Results Be Incorrect?

There are a number of reasons why breathalyzer test results can be inaccurate. Some of the most common causes that our legal team finds in the cases we defend include:

  • The breathalyzer device was not calibrated properly
  • There was electronic interference when test administered (i.e. radio frequencies
  • The breathalyzer device was malfunctioning
  • Law enforcement used incorrect or expired chemical solution for the test
  • Law enforcement improperly administered the test
  • You may have a health condition that caused a false reading on the test, such as diabetes or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • You may have been exposed to chemicals that will cause a false reading, such as oil-based paints, varnish, cleaning products, and gasoline

There are also certain products that contain alcohol but not the kind of alcohol that will cause intoxication. Unfortunately, these products can cause a BAC reading to increase:

  • Cough medicines that contain a high level of alcohol
  • Vaping products
  • Mouthwash or breath sprays

Contact a Tennessee Criminal Lawyer for Help

If you have been charged with a DUI, contact a Knoxville, TN DUI defense attorney right away. A conviction can have a significant impact on both your personal and professional life. Call Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney at 865-281-1000 to schedule a free consultation.


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