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Factors known to impact Breathalyzer accuracy

Seeing those blue lights come on in your review mirror can prove incredibly unnerving, and so, too, can undergoing a breath test after a law enforcement official stops you on suspicion of drunk driving. Conducted using devices known as Breathalyzers, breath tests give authorities an idea of your level of impairment behind the wheel. Depending on the results of your breath test and whether authorities formally charge you with drinking and driving, you may face harsh penalties, if convicted.

Because the repercussions of drinking and driving in Virginia can prove considerable, it is critical that the results produced by your breath test are completely accurate. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case, as there are a number of outside factors that can affect Breathalyzer accuracy. These factors can include the following:

Electronic interference

In some cases, if electronic interference is present when you take your breath test, it can lead to a falsely elevated Breathalyzer reading. Interference can come from a range of different sources, among them police scanners, cellphones, cellphone towers and the like.


If you are diabetic, certain aspects of your condition may make it look as if you have been drinking, even if this is not actually true. Breath tests can look for acetone, which can indicate consumption of alcohol, but acetone on the breath can also be a side effect of diabetes, meaning it can appear if you are diabetic, even if you have not consumed any alcohol.

Vomit and blood

If you have vomit or blood in your mouth when you take your breath test, know that both substances have the capacity to offset the results of the test. In many cases, law enforcement officials are aware of this, and they generally wait a set amount of time after you bleed in your mouth or vomit before administering your breath test.

A drunk driving conviction can lead to fines, possible jail time and other potential repercussions, so if you have reason to suspect that your breath test was inaccurate, you may be wise to research the matter further.

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Whitestone Young, PC
10513 Judicial Drive Suite 300
Fairfax, VA 22030-7528

Phone: 703-260-7265
Phone: 703-591-0200
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