Alabama law enforcement officers can pull over drivers who show signs of intoxication, such as crossing the lane lines, weaving in and out of traffic and other erratic behaviors. If the police stop you, they may request that you take a breath test. While you can refuse, the result may be immediate arrest under the implied consent law. We often mount a strong defense for clients arrested for driving while intoxicated.

BACtrack reports that preliminary breath testers, also known as breathalyzers are popular with law enforcement, due to ease of use and portability.

Inadmissible in court

Although breath tests help officers establish probable cause for an arrest for DUI, they are not admissible in court. One of the most common concerns is whether the results are accurate. There are two different technologies employed by these devices, and accuracy varies. Professional-grade units use fuel sensors instead of the semiconductor sensors in PBTs developed for personal use. Fuel sensors are more accurate but still require calibration. Administrators must receive training for proper use.

Prevalent external factors

Even if the calibration is correct and maintenance up-to-date, there are still outside factors that influence the results. A variety of environmental factors can trigger false positives. Paint fumes, chemicals found in adhesives and plastics as well as varnish can affect the results.

Foreign substances, including some breath fresheners, toothache medications and mouthwashes, contain alcohol. The presence of these products can distort the readings and produce an inaccurate reading.

For consistency, officers should administer the test several times. Without multiple results, there is no reliable baseline.

Other external elements that can affect the breathalyzer outcome includes software glitches in the unit and user error. If any of these issues are present, it can result in the dismissal of charges.