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All Press Releases for December 15, 2013 »
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Breath test machine in Pennsylvania banned over accuracy errors

If law enforcement in Pittsburg pulls you over, they may ask you to take a series of tests if they suspect that you are under the influence of alcohol.
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    December 15, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- When law enforcement in Pittsburg pulls you over, they may ask you to take a series of tests if they suspect that you are under the influence of alcohol. One of these tests is the breath test and if the readings of the test indicate that your blood alcohol content level is over the legal limit, you will likely find yourself arrested and facing a charge of driving under the influence, or DUI.

If you are convicted of that charge, you can expect a number of penalties such as probation, jail time, license suspension, fines or even license revocation. In addition to the court penalties, your job could be put in jeopardy, there is potential public humiliation and it may create undue challenges for family members as well.

Breath test machine accuracy questioned

Earlier this year, a statewide movement was undertaken by criminal defense lawyers throughout the state to ban the use of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN. According to The Morning Call, it was believed that the calibration process used on the machines was faulty. In one case, a man's BAC was determined to be at 0.214, which is well above the legal limit of 0.08. As a result of the errors, the breath test machine evidence was thrown out in several cases by a Dauphin County judge.

While state police initiated a ban on using the machines after the judge's rulings, WGAL recently reported the superior court ruled against the judge, allowing the results of these breath test machines to now be submitted in court. It is unknown what led to the high court's ruling.

Problems with breath tests

Studies conducted have shown that breath tests are far from accurate. According to the National Motorists Association, there is an error margin of 50 percent between breath tests and blood tests. This is because a breath test is not based on science. The results of a breath test can be influenced by a number of exterior factors such as:
- Moisture.
- Electrical interference such as cell phones and police radios.
- The presence of blood in the mouth.
- Whether a person has recently exercised.
- A person's body temperature.
- How the device is calibrated.

In addition, even a person's health condition and exposure to certain chemicals can cause a false BAC reading. According to the State University of New York, a breath test machine measures the amount of ethyl alcohol as well as other chemical compounds that are similar molecularly, not the BAC itself. If a person is working with contact cement or paint thinners, he or she could test with a BAC level on a breath test even when a blood test shows no evidence of alcohol.

This means that a person could be charged falsely with DUI, based on a breath test. If you are facing a DUI charge, you should speak with an experienced attorney who can provide you with sound legal advice about your rights and your options.

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