Breathalyzer Evidence in Baltimore DUI Cases
Breathalyzers are no more reliable in Baltimore than they are in any other jurisdictions. An experienced Baltimore DUI lawyer will explain to you that there are some inherent problems with breathalyzer testing for alcohol. Law enforcement officers use breathalyzer testing for alcohol is because it’s relatively inexpensive compared to some of the alternatives. The breathalyzer machine is a one size fits all machine, it doesn’t take into account an individual’s gender, size, weight, metabolism, or what an individual has eaten that day. All of these factors can influence how alcohol, if consumed, affects one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. The breathalyzer doesn’t take any of that into consideration which makes it a less reliable instrument.
Common Misconceptions About Breathalyzers in Baltimore
The biggest misconception about breathalyzers that exist in Baltimore is that there is a significantly different penalty for a breath sample higher than a .15 BAC or a refusal. Officers frequently tell people that if they don’t submit to the breathalyzer test, they lose their license automatically. They fail to mention that most of the time when an individual blows into the breathalyzer, they are also going to lose their driver’s license with exactly the same level of automatic process as if they refused. Many individuals are improperly informed whether or not it makes sense to do the breathalyzer or to refuse in their individual case.
It is important to know when it makes sense to do a Breathalyzer test and when it makes sense to refuse to do a Breathalyzer test.
Challenging Erroneous Breathalyzer Results in Court
Breathalyzer results can be challenged in court. The Breathalyzer result creates a presumption that is always rebuttable. An attorney can challenge the result by saying there were errors in the testing procedure, that the test wasn’t done correctly according to the rules set up by the state. They can also challenge the actual validity and legitimacy of the test itself saying that the test result is inconsistent with the officer’s observations of the individual. The test showed that the person was significantly impaired, but there were no indicators of impairment in interactions with that person. Sometimes those kinds of facts can be used to challenge the admissibility of the test.
Causes for Inaccurate Breathalyzer Readings
All breathalyzers use something called a partition ratio. The breathalyzer is supposed to be measuring how much alcohol is in individual’s bloodstream. When the breathalyzer takes a breath sample, it extrapolates from that breath sample how much alcohol that means an individual had in their blood. They use a partition ratio which is the ratio of exhaled alcohol to blood alcohol.
Breathalyzer machines use exactly the same partition ratio for everybody. Partition ratio, in reality, is affected by gender, size, and mass. There are many individual factors that affect a partition ratio. The fact that the machine uses a one size fits all partition ratio for everyone inherently makes the test unreliable, inaccurate, and potentially inaccurately high. Even though the results from breathalyzer tests are given a lot of weight in court, it is possible that an experienced lawyer can argue against the reliability of a breathalyzer test in court.
Government Awareness of Breathalyzer Inaccuracy
The government experts must be aware of the issues with Breathalyzer machines. The issues are highlighted when one considers how the machine actually works. The reason that people continue to use Breathalyzer machines despite their known inaccuracies is simply convenience. There are such a large number of DUI cases in Baltimore that to do any other kind of Breathalyzer testing is potentially prohibitively expensive. As usual when the question is why they did something they knew was wrong, the answer is because it’s cheaper that way.
Standards for Breathalyzer Calibrations in Baltimore
There are two types of calibrations for the machine. One, the machine auto calibrates for every test that it does. When the machine starts the test cycle it tests a known standard solution that is made to be a .08 BAC. It needs to read that within ten percent, so it needs to read that .08 as somewhere between a .072 and a .088 for the test to be valid.
There is also periodic testing of the breathalyzer machine a couple of times a year. These are calibrations of the machine itself which are done by the operator. They have a long checklist of procedures and tests to make sure that the machine is reading the .08 BAC sample and other stimulator solutions after that.