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Can someone who fails a breath test fight a DUI charge?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2023 | Drunk Driving Charges |

People often get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) offenses in California due to technical infractions. They didn’t hit anybody or cause a crash. They may not have even demonstrated significant evidence of impairment while driving.  Instead, they failed a chemical breath test during a traffic stop. Anyone over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) could face prosecution even if they don’t cause a crash or directly harm other people.

It is illegal to drive with too much alcohol in one’s bloodstream, regardless of how well someone can operate a motor vehicle while unlawfully impaired. As a result, many people plead guilty because they assume that unfavorable breath test results will ensure a conviction. However, it is entirely possible for someone to avoid a DUI conviction despite failing a breath test in California.

Breath testing is far from infallible

Despite the trust that many people have in science and chemical breath testing, there are a variety of factors that can compromise the accuracy of test results. False positive tests occur with alarming frequency due to factors outside of a driver’s control.

Police departments can make mistakes when training officers how to conduct tests or when performing maintenance on breath test devices. Regular calibration is also crucial to accurate testing. Factors related to an individual’s health, diet or hygiene practices can also skew test results and lead to false positives. A variety of different compounds, ranging from common asthma drugs to acetone, could lead to elevated test results or positive tests when someone has had nothing to drink whatsoever.

Some defendants can provide evidence about medical issues that could help them defend against DUI charges in California. Others might be able to mount a defense by pointing to calibration or maintenance mistakes by the police department. Just because someone failed a test doesn’t necessarily mean they were drunk or broke the law and it doesn’t mean that they will necessarily be convicted as a result of the breath test results in question.