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All Press Releases for January 22, 2014 »
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Disputing the science of the breath test in Texas

In Texas, drivers are required to take a breath test or a blood test if the officer suspects them of being impaired.
 
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    January 22, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Many people in San Antonio enjoy a drink of wine with their dinner or unwind after a long and stressful week by meeting friends and family at neighborhood clubs and bars. However, when the consumption of alcohol is combined with driving a car, people may find themselves facing a first-time DWI charge.

Texas' DWI laws

The Texas Department of Transportation indicates that the state takes a strong stance on drinking and driving. If a person is stopped for a traffic offence and appears to be impaired by alcohol or drugs, that person can be arrested and charged with DWI. Furthermore, if a driver's blood alcohol content measures at 0.08 or higher, the person is immediately arrested.

In Texas, drivers are required to take a breath test or a blood test if the officer suspects them of being impaired. Refusal to comply with the request results in an automatic 180 day license suspension. Typically, a DWI conviction involves fines, jail time, driver's license suspension and an annual retaining fee for the license. If a driver is convicted for the third time of DWI, that person can expect a $10,000 fine and a prison sentence of between 2 and 10 years.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that in 2012, there were over 89,000 people arrested for drunk driving but it is unknown how many of those resulted in convictions.

Questioning the science

Studies conducted on breath tests have disputed a widely held belief that this method of determining a person's BAC is based on science. According to the National Motorists Association there is an error margin of 50 percent between blood test and breath test results. The organization states that, because of the error margin, breath tests are unreliable and should only be used as evidence when a person has a BAC that is well above the legal limit.

The State University of New York explains the lack of science in a more precise way. A breath test machine is designed to look for the presence of ethyl alcohol. However, there are other substances in the breath which can have a molecular structure that is strikingly similar. The presence of these other molecules can cause the machine to show a higher BAC amount.

Influenced by other factors

In addition to the molecular issue, other factors have also been shown to cause faulty readings on a breath test. These factors include:
- Tobacco smoke.
- Temperature of the body and environment.
- Recent physical activity.
- Police radios and cell phones.
- Dirt.
- Moisture.

One study was conducted in which a man was asked to perform a project using contact cement and oil-base paint. He was then given a breath test 20 minutes after completing the tasks. While he had no alcohol in his system, the breath test showed him with a BAC of 0.12. Such studies raise alarm over whether the breath test is a reliable piece of evidence. When a person is arrested and charged with drunk driving, he or she should seek counsel from an experienced attorney.

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