How Does A Breathalyzer Machine Measure Alcohol In Someone’s System?
Machines measure alcohol in a very scientific way. The breath sample is blown into the machine and into a sealed chamber. While that air is going through that chamber, an emitter emits an infrared light. If there is no breath going into the machine, the emitter will send out the infrared light and the detector at the other end of the machine will sense how much infrared light is coming out. The alcohol that’s in the breath sample is absorbed by the infrared light. That means less infrared light is going to reach the sensor at the other end of the chamber and the less light that’s received by that sensor, the higher the alcohol reading.
Do Officers Follow The Required Protocol When Administering Breathalyzer Tests?
It’s my opinion that officers do not follow the protocol when it comes to the observation period. I have seen numerous examples where they consider the observation period right when they put the suspected driver in the back of their patrol car. They check their mouth and then they’ll drive them back to the station. That’s not a good observation period because they’re focusing on their driving and on the radio, and are not focused on the suspect and whether he’s hiccupped or not. We’ve gotten a lot of cases dismissed because the officers have body cams and it will show them leaving the room during the observation period.
What Other Types Of Errors Can Cause A Misreading Of The Breathalyzer Test?
I’ve seen misreading caused when officers are not being properly trained and certified to operate the machine. I’ve seen errors where the machine was not calibrated with the proper calibration methods and mixtures. I’ve seen insufficient samples where the driver has a hard time breathing and they can’t blow enough air into the machine. I think some officers can manipulate the machine source by instructing the suspect to take a huge breath and blow as hard as they can.
There’s sometimes a radio frequency that will interfere. Electronics emit signals and electronic waves that can cause errors in the machine. All kinds of things can happen and it’s better to try to get the information and the calibration records on the machine to see what was actually going on at the time of the breath test.
What Evidence Do You Review To Potentially Refute The Breathalyzer Test Results?
In every case, I try to gather all of the evidence that’s available. I get a copy of the printout from the machine for my client’s test to see if there’s any incorrect information or something that doesn’t look right. I request the calibration records for the machine, which is supposed to be calibrated periodically. I look at the operator training and check for a certification lapse. If they weren’t certified, then that can result in an invalid test. I can request what’s called the Cobra records of the other tests that were given in that period of time. I could look and see that my client was given a breath test at nine o’clock at night and an hour prior, a test was given that was really high. You can look for patterns and discrepancies.
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