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All Press Releases for December 12, 2013 »
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Arizona Supreme Court widens opening for breath test challenges

The Arizona Supreme Court agreed unanimously that DUI defense can include scientific evidence that breath test results can be influenced by a number of physiological factors.
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    December 12, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- When someone is pulled over in the Phoenix-Mesa area and suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, the law enforcement officer often asks the person to take a breath test after that person fails a field sobriety test. If the test shows that the person has a blood-alcohol content level of 0.08 or above, the officer will place the person under arrest and a charge of DUI will be filed against him or her.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there were over 31,000 arrests made in Arizona in 2011. Arizona is considered one of the most aggressive states when it comes to drunk driving. First-time offenders are required to use ignition interlocks, can lose their license and face a number of penalties and fines.

Breath test variables admissible in court

In a recent decision, the Arizona Supreme Court agreed unanimously that DUI defense can include scientific evidence that breath test results can be influenced by a number of physiological factors. According to the Arizona Daily Star, the issue was brought to the court after a judge refused to block evidence challenging the accuracy of a breath test in the case of a man who was charged with driving under the influence "to the slightest degree".

The ruling will allow defense teams to present evidence to juries that a person's breath temperature or concentration of red blood cells could affect the readings of the breath test. For people who register close to the 0.08 level, this ruling will give them another tool with which to challenge their DUI charge.

No science involved in breath tests

Many people believe that breath tests are a scientific method in gaging the amount of alcohol in a person's system but according to the National Motorists Association, that is not quite true. Several studies have revealed that there is a 50 percent error margin between breath tests and blood tests. This means that the results of a breath test could be off by as much as .15 percent.

The State University of New York points out that a breath test does not have the ability to test a person's blood alcohol concentration. Instead, it detects the presence of ethyl alcohol but there are other substances can have a similar molecular structure. This means that a breath test could be influenced by a number of items including:
- Gasoline.
- Cleaning fluids.
- Tobacco smoke.
- Moisture.
- Electronic equipment.

In one experiment, a test subject was asked to work with contact cement and oil-based paint. Twenty minutes after finishing the project, which took about an hour, the person was given a breath test and his BAC was registered at 0.12 although he had not touched a drop of alcohol.

With so many variables and outside influences that can affect the results of a breath test, it is no surprise that innocent people can find themselves charged with drinking and driving. In such cases, they may find it beneficial to speak with an experienced attorney for help.

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