Five Potential Problems With Your DWI/DUI Breath Test Result

If you’ve been charged with driving while intoxicated, New York’s phrasing for driving under the influence, it’s very likely you provided the police with a breath test sample that allegedly measured how much you had to drink. Despite how scientific the government wants you and a jury to think the result is, there are many error points that can affect the result of your DWI breath test. It is important when you are trying to find the right DWI defense lawyer, that you explain what happened in detail, so your criminal defense/DWI lawyer can determine if any of the issues below may be relevant defenses for your case.


  1. Preexisting Health Conditions Could Impact A DWI Breath Test Result

Most recently you may have heard about “auto-brewery” syndrome, which is a rare condition where an individual’s digestive system has an unusual large quantity of yeast. This coupled with other factors can result in food fermenting in your body, resulting in an unusually high BAC on little to no alcohol. This syndrome not only would drastically affect your case, but your health could be at extreme risk.

There are other more common health conditions that can affect your breath result too, such as acid reflux, heartburn, or some other gastroesophageal disease.

Simply having a condition is never enough to overcome the default courts’ have in their trust of these breath machines. However, your factual circumstances may very much show why such a condition affected your specific result.


  1. The Amount And Type Of Food You Ate Leading Up To The DWI Breath Test May Impact The Result

Unlike a preexisting condition above, normal eating habits can still affect your breath result. Eating triggers your body’s digestive system in a different way than if you simply drink alcohol without any food. There could be several issues if you ate excessive starchy food or foods with low to no carbohydrates.

Important to DWI laws in New York, is what your BAC was when you were operating the motor vehicle. The food you ate could cause your BAC to spike after you were driving, meaning you were not acting improperly or doing anything wrong at the time of your traffic stop. Important evidence here could be why the officer stopped you, and how you were able to pull over and park.


  1. The Presence Of Mouth Alcohol Can Impact The DWI Breath Test Result

This would mean that as you take the breath test, additional alcohol is provided to the machine, as opposed to solely the air that was in your lungs. This is alcohol your body did not normally metabolize and would not cause any intoxicating affects.

The machine is supposed to be able to measure mouth alcohol and attempt to alert the officer of its presence. However, this is not fool proof. This is one of the reasons that New York requires police to observe you for twenty minutes prior to you taking the test, as an attempt to verify that you did not burp, vomit, or otherwise generate some type of mouth alcohol. That requirement is rife with human error.

Also, if you have mouth piercings, capped teeth, a false tooth, or dentures, alcohol can become trapped and similarly lead to an imperfect result. It does not take a large quantity to drastically alter a breath test result, so be sure to talk to your lawyer about any dental work you’ve had done.


  1. Improper Calibration Of The Breathalyzer Can Impact The Result Of The Breath Test

Breathalyzers have a lot of automation as they attempt to remove as many potential errors from law enforcement as possible. New York requires continual calibration to ensure that the machine is accurately calculating a blood alcohol content.

If the machine is not properly calculated, your breath result may become inadmissible, or thrown out. You should go over with your lawyer the calibration documents that must be turned over by the district attorney’s office in discovery, to see if the date of your arrest is properly covered by a valid calibration record.


  1. The Timing Of Your Breath Test Can Impact The Breath Test Result

The typical scenario in New York requires that your breath test result be within two hours of your arrest. While this might sound like something that would be easy for law enforcement to meet, you need to be aware of the unique circumstances that a DWI/DUI arrest may include.

Keep in mind that the time must be added that it took to travel back to the police station, and the twenty-minute observation period mentioned previously. This rule is more about a technical legal requirement under New York Law, specifically VTL §1194(2), and not really about the adequacy of your breath test. However, the result can be the same, meaning your test is legally inadmissible and cannot be used against you.

You and your attorney should review what occurred after you were stopped and then arrested for many reasons, but this one is very important. Because of this requirement, law enforcement may have cut other corners, which means while your breath test might have been within two hours of arrest, perhaps other issues are now present that drastically effects your case.