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Substances that Can Affect Breathalyzer Test Results


Did you know that certain substances may affect breathalyzer test results? Read on to learn more.

Michigan Breathalyzer Tests

Police officers administer breathalyzer tests to determine a driver's blood alcohol content (BAC). In Michigan, the Alco-Sensor III is a preliminary breathalyzer device used on suspected drunk drivers. It is used to measure BAC at roadside traffic stops and it is not considered particularly accurate.

Note, if you refuse to take the preliminary breath test, you will receive a civil infraction which may result in fines and a police officer can still take you into custody if there is other evidence that may provide him/her with probable cause to believe that you were driving while intoxicated.

All official breathalyzer tests are performed on the DataMaster or Datamaster DMT at the police station. The DataMaster (DMT) is a scientific instrument designed to analyze a sample of a person's breath to determine their BAC. The DMT analyzes the breath sample by using infrared absorption spectrometry. The DMT test is used to help a police officer confirm that you were operating a motor vehicle over the .08% legal limit. If you refuse to take the DMT test without good cause, your driver's license will be suspended for up to a year. The police can also obtain a warrant to obtain a blood sample from you in order to determine your BAC.

DataMaster Test Defects

There are certain substances and conditions that may affect the DMT results. For instance, if a person provides a low volume of breath that meets the breath requirements, then he/she may test lower than what they would had they provided a higher volume of breath. Additionally, certain non-alcoholic substances in the mouth may also affect test results.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that dieters and diabetics can have acetone levels hundreds and even thousand of times higher than that in others. Acetone is one of the many substances that can be falsely identified as ethyl alcohol by some breathalyzer machines.

Substances in the environment can also lead to false BAC readings. For example, an alcohol-free subject was asked to apply a pint of contact cement to a piece of plywood and then to apply a gallon of oil-base paint to a wall. The total activity lasted about an hour. Twenty minutes later the subject was tested on an Intoxilyzer, which registered a BAC of .12 percent. This level is 50% higher than a BAC of .08, which constitutes legal intoxication in many states.

DMT results can also be affected if the person administering the test does so improperly. If a police officer administering the test fails to monitor the proper duration of breath samples, radio frequency interference, and the calibration of the DMT, the test results may be inaccurate.

If you believe that your BAC results are inaccurate, contact me for a case consultation. I defend individuals charged with drunk driving in the Ann Arbor area . Call 734-274-6567 or email me to schedule an appointment.


Breath Analyzer Accuracy

Alcohol Enforcement Unit

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