George F. Hildebrandt
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4 reasons breathalyzer tests give false-positive readings

Few things can ruin an otherwise fun night on the town faster than flashing lights in your rearview mirror. If officers suspect you are over New York’s legal limit for blood alcohol concentration, 0.08 percent, they may ask you to take a roadside breathalyzer test. If the test confirms officers’ suspicions, you may find yourself in a jail cell. 

Like all machines, breathalyzer tests are not perfect. If you think the test you took gave a false-positive reading, attacking its validity may be an effective strategy for avoiding serious legal consequences. Here are four reasons breathalyzer tests may issue a false positive: 

1. You took the test too quickly after drinking 

Breathalyzer tests measure the concentration of alcohol in your bloodstream. If you consume alcohol immediately before taking the test, though, it may issue a false positive. To avoid an error, officers usually wait at least 15 minutes before conducting the test. If less time has passed, your breathalyzer test’s reading may be inaccurate. 

2. Officers did not calibrate the test correctly 

Law enforcement personnel follow precise rules to be certain breathalyzer tests function properly. If officers fail to calibrate the test correctly, you could receive a false-positive reading. 

3. You ate certain foods 

Some foods may encourage a breathalyzer test to give inaccurate readings. For example, pecans, ripe fruit, energy drinks and protein bars may mess with the test. Further, if you have acid in your stomach from eating a spicy meal, you may not be able to rely on the accuracy of the breathalyzer test. 

4. You have certain medical conditions 

Gastrointestinal medical conditions may also result in false-positive readings. If you have acid reflux, GERD, heartburn or other medical conditions, you may be able to attack the validity of a breathalyzer test. Also, some medications increase the likelihood of receiving a false positive. 

Driving drunk is always a bad idea. If you believe a breathalyzer test has given a false-positive readout, though, you may have an effective defense to a DWI charge. Rather than blindly accepting the test’s conclusions, think about what may have caused the false-positive results.  

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