Can a Faulty Breathalyzer Be Used as a DUI Defense in Maryland? 

Can a Faulty Breathalyzer Be Used as a DUI Defense in Maryland?

During a driving under the influence (DUI) traffic stop, it is common for a Maryland police officer to administer a roadside breathalyzer test. Then, officers often take DUI suspects to a police station upon an arrest to conduct a more scientific breath test, the results of which may be used as evidence in a DUI case.

Maryland police officers rely on these tests to gauge drivers’ blood alcohol content (BAC) and sobriety. Maryland state prosecutors then use the results to build a criminal case against the driver. However, too many people do not realize that the machines that produce these results may be prone to a variety of errors, which may produce inaccurate results. An experienced Maryland DUI defense attorney can examine the administration of the breath test to check if anything could have caused a false reading.

How Can a DUI Defense Attorney Challenge a Breath Test?

When administering a breath test, there are numerous procedures that officers must follow by the book. If they fail to follow all regulations, your defense attorney might be able to use that in your defense, which may lead a judge to dismiss your DUI charge. Furthermore, various factors could contribute to a false positive result. Continue reading to learn more about factors that can cause a false positive and how your attorney can use it as a defense.

Breath Test Procedures

Properly administering a breath test is a vital aspect of the prosecution’s case and must occur within two hours of the stop. The police officer must observe the individual the entire time they administer the test. There must be a 20-minute observation window to ensure that the driver has not thrown up, they have not put anything in their mouths during that time, and their mouth is clean.

Additionally, if the DUI stop was at a scheduled checkpoint, an attorney can question whether police officers followed all procedures. For example, for a Maryland DUI checkpoint to be legal, officers must notify the public in advance. There must be signs warning drivers about the checkpoint, and they must have a random process for checking vehicles. If cops do not follow even one of these rules, the checkpoint becomes illegal, and a defense attorney can use it as part of their defense.

Improper Certification and Testing of Machines

The breathalyzers that produce results to be used as evidence in DUI cases must be regularly calibrated and tested to ensure that they are working correctly. Police officers must clean, maintain, and update them according to a rigid schedule. If there is a flaw in one machine, they cannot use the results of that machine to bring charges against an individual. A Maryland DUI defense attorney may call into question the maintenance and care of the device.

Body Temperature May Affect Results

A driver’s core body temperature might influence the results of a breath test. Remember, breath tests measure the amount of alcohol present in a person’s breath to calculate how much alcohol is in their blood. When calculating a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading, the system assumes a static relationship of alcohol in the breath to blood—which is not correct. If someone’s body temperature is high, it could impact the breathalyzer’s reading. For every degree above the average body temperature, the margin of error could increase by up to 7%.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

One of the most prominent conditions that could lead to a breath test error is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD occurs when acid from the stomach flows back into the esophagus due to issues in the digestive tract, which can result in a false positive reading. If the individual has documentation regarding their disease, an attorney may question the test’s accuracy. However, your attorney will likely need your doctor to testify on your behalf.

Contact an Experienced Maryland DUI Defense Attorney Today

If you face DUI charges and believe they stemmed from a faulty breathalyzer or false reading, contact the Law Office of Hillel Traub. Attorney Hillel Traub is a passionate advocate defending all types of traffic violations, including DUI charges. Proudly serving the Maryland community for more than 20 years, Attorney Traub will take every step possible and explore all available options when defending you. To schedule a free consultation, call (410) 580-1100 or complete our contact form.