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All Press Releases for January 08, 2014 »
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DUI: Breath tests not entirely accurate, studies show

Over 29,000 people in Tennessee were arrested for drunk driving in 2012 and over 25,000 people were convicted.
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    January 08, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The holiday season has officially begun and this means that many people in Knoxville will be going to holiday parties and holding their own gatherings. These social get-togethers often offer a large amount of alcohol for consumption and when people drive home later, they may be stopped by law enforcement and asked if they have been drinking. One of the methods used to determine if someone is over the legal limit is a breath test. When a breath test shows that someone's blood-alcohol content is 0.08 or above, that person will be arrested and charged with a DUI.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, over 29,000 people in Tennessee were arrested for drunk driving in 2012 and over 25,000 people were convicted. When someone is convicted of drunk driving, they face many penalties such as incarceration, probation, fines, license suspension and license revocation. This year, Tennessee lawmakers passed legislation that will require someone convicted of a first-time DUI offense to use an ignition interlock.

Criticism over breath tests

Over the last few years, breath tests have received a great deal of criticism from legal professionals and even the courts. Ohio judges started rejecting the results of a breath test machine used in that state last year according to WKYC. While the state defended the machine, stating that it is reliable, over 36,000 people were arrested after the machine showed them to be over the limit. Allegedly, one man's breath test showed his BAC at a fatal level.

That controversy has continued. Early this year, Pennsylvania issued a ban on the use of a table top breath machine after a judge dismissed several DUI cases, according to WTAE. The judge issued his ruling over testimony that the calibration on the machines may not be accurate. One of the cases dismissed showed that the BAC reading on one man was 0.214 according to two breath tests issued.

Breath test science questioned

The State University of New York's sociology department points out that a breath test is not based on science. A breath test looks for the presence of ethyl alcohol, which is found in beer and wine, but there are other substances that contain a similar molecular structure. This means that the results of a breath test can be influenced by things like:
- Moisture.
- Dirt.
- Cell phones and police radios.
- The body temperature of the person being tested.
- Certain breads.
- Blood in the mouth.

Studies conducted show that even exercise and exposure to chemicals can create a false reading on a breath test. In one experiment, a man's BAC was tested after he had worked with contact cement and oil-base paint. The test was performed 20 minutes after he finished the project and showed his BAC at 0.12, even though he had not touched a drop of alcohol.

When people are facing a charge of DUI, it is important for them to meet with an experienced attorney who can discuss defense strategies with them.

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