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Austin DWI Attorney Report: The Shortfalls of the Breathalyzer Test and the Breathalyzer Equalizer’s Quick Fix

The Austin DWI Lawyers at Peek and Toland consult with clients everyday regarding DWI and DUI charges. Sometimes the DWI attorneys at Peek and Toland are asked questions about quick fixes and false positives on the field sobriety test. Recently, we saw an advertisement for a new product called Breathalyzer Equalizer that claims it can eliminate false positives on a breathalyzer test. According to the Breathalyzer Equalizer website, the all-natural powder based product, will freshen breath and eliminate alcohol residue that could trigger a false positive on the breathalyzer test. The Breathalyzer Equalizer website also indicates the product is meant only for sober drivers who want to protect themselves from false positives on a field sobriety test; however the logo advertising the Breathalyzer Equalizer features a martini glass. Additionally, the promotional video on Breathalyzer Equalizer’s website suggests that those who consume alcohol before driving can prevent a positive alcohol breathalyzer test by using their product.

Products like the Breathalyzer Equalizer are potentially dangerous in that they have collateral consequences. They provide drivers with a false sense of security and place potentially dangerous and intoxicated drivers on the roads. It is NOT illegal to drink and then drive, but it is illegal to drink to the point of losing one’s mental and/or physical faculties and then drive.

What is the Breathalyzer Equalizer really about then? While the Breathalyzer Equalizer has potentially dangerous collateral consequences, it is clever in that it addresses one of the many flaws in all breathalyzer devices. To understand how the Breathalyzer Equalizer addresses Breathalyzer inaccuracies, one must first understand how the device works. It is scientifically proven that breathalyzers are often inaccurate and commonly unreliable. Thus, the attorneys at Peek and Toland do not ever recommend providing a breath sample unless required by a court order. The Breathalyzer test has three major flaws, which we will discuss below; however the Breathalyzer Equalizer is a product marketed to only address one of those flaws.

First, Breathalyzers operate under the assumption that the sample taken contains alcohol from the lungs. To calculate the amount of alcohol in the blood, the Breathalyzer’s internal computer multiplies the amount in the breath sample. If the sample is not from the lungs but from the mouth, throat, or stomach, the amount of alcohol should not be multiplied, or the result will be falsely high. The failure of Breathalyzers to distinguish between alcohols provided from the lungs and alcohol which is already in the mouth or throat is a grave and common problem. Approximately one-third of individuals suffer from acid reflux disease, which is a common source of mouth alcohol that will result in a false positive on the Breathalyzer test. Thus, products like the Breathalyzer Equalizer are being marketed as quick fixes for one of the Breathalyzer test’s common design flaws.

However, false positive readings from a Breathalyzer are not only determined by alcohol in the mouth instead of alcohol in the lungs, the Breathalyzer test could result in a DWI or DUI charge for a suspect in two other ways. The first way a Breathalyzer test could result in a false positive reading is if the suspect has a unique partition ratio. The partition ratio is the ratio of blood versus alcohol in the breath. The computer inside a breathalyzer is pre-programmed to multiply the amount of alcohol in a DWI suspect’s breath sample by the average partition ratio of an adult, 2,100 units of blood to 1 unit of alcohol, to determine the suspect’s blood-alcohol concentration. However, not every suspect has the same partition ratio. Partition ratios vary from as low as 900-to-1 to as high as 3,500-to-1. Thus, if a suspect’s ratio is different than the average, the blood-alcohol concentration result will be inaccurate and could result in a false positive reading on the Breathalyzer test.

Finally, a common reason for inaccurate Breathalyzer results is a change in a suspect’s body temperature. For example, if a suspect is ill, the body temperature may be elevated. A change in a suspect’s body temperate by as little as 1 degree Celsius can result in an altered partition ratio of 2,100-1, thus resulting in a 7% higher test result.

Therefore, it is important to consult with an attorney when facing DWI or DUI charges. There are many inaccuracies in Breathalyzer tests and not every suspect is aware of them at the time he or she is pulled over and tested. At Peek and Toland, we provide our clients with not only professional and responsive representation; we are able to provide years of DWI and DUI experience to our clients. If you are seeking an attorney who is knowledgeable and educated on not only the law, but the potential flaws and faults of the Breathalyzer test, then please contact us. We are here to answer your questions and help with your Austin DWI or DUI case.

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