Some people in law enforcement might tell you that a high BAC level on a breathalyzer is definitive proof that a driver has consumed a few too many drinks before getting behind the wheel. That is far from the truth. While courts do accept breathalyzer evidence, people charged with DUI in Florida have the right to know that a breathalyzer used on them was in working order.
Breathalyzers, like many mechanical devices, are not meant to be used on a regular basis without inspections and maintenance. FindLaw explains that a breathalyzer needs to be calibrated on a consistent basis so that it produces accurate readings. Those standards are set by the states, so how often a breathalyzer is calibrated in Florida is determined by state regulations.
The implications of a poorly calibrated breathalyzer can be devastating to the prosecution. A breathalyzer that is not maintained according to state standards is likely to produce inaccurate or unreliable results. If the breathalyzer is not reliable, the court cannot use the results from it as the basis to determine that a person was intoxicated while driving.
The competency of the officer using the breathalyzer should not be ignored. Even if the breathalyzer is in acceptable condition, an officer can still misuse the device and produce inaccurate results. For instance, an officer should be sure that a driver does not smoke a cigarette, take a bite out of food, or do anything to ingest or expel substances from the mouth shortly before taking the test. Failure to perform this action can cause the breathalyzer to register a false positive.
Even if the breathalyzer is in working order and the officer administered the test according to state standards, no one should ignore the possibility that the test was conducted without probable cause. An officer that arrests you must have possessed reasonable suspicion or probable cause that you were under the influence while driving. A lack of these conditions means your rights were violated and the breathalyzer results should be ruled inadmissible.
Do not believe the hype that breathalyzers are infallible. Strong defenses against breathalyzer evidence do exist. Considering the consequences of a DUI conviction, it is worth it to explore your options with an experienced DUI attorney.