The penalties for a DWI conviction are severe, and no one should have to face the fines, license suspension or jail time without substantial evidence that drinking and driving did, in fact, occur. In the state of New York, motorists could face DWI charges if they are over the age of 21 and their blood alcohol concentration is more than 0.08 percent.
If you are facing DWI charges, turn to Darren DeUrso, Attorney at Law. As a White Plains criminal lawyer, Mr. DeUrso understands the nuances of criminal law in New York, and he will help you build a solid defense. Call 914-772-8614 to schedule a consultation with a White Plains DWI attorney today.
There are three ways to test someone’s BAC: with breath, blood or urine. The most accurate way to determine BAC is with a blood test; however, these tests are invasive, and they are essentially useless at traffic stops because a healthcare professional must conduct them in a clinical setting.
For that reason, officers across the country use handheld devices for testing breath. These breathalyzers, or preliminary breath testers, are portable, lightweight and fairly easy to administer. Unfortunately, they can also be inaccurate.
The Problem with Breathalyzers
All breathalyzers work in essentially the same way, but devices that use semiconductor sensors are subject to incorrect readings and false positives when substances like ketones are present. These devices are also sensitive to chemicals like hair spray, cigarette smoke, and breath acetone.
Law enforcement personnel typically use breathalyzers that contain fuel cell sensors, which are more accurate than those that have a semiconductor sensor. Fuel cell sensors are troublesome, though, because they provide the most accurate readings at higher blood alcohol levels.
That means individuals who only consumed one or two drinks could get an inaccurate result from a fuel cell breathalyzer. Accurate readings at lower concentrations are critical because it doesn’t take much for officers to arrest commercial motorists or underage individuals for DWI. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, police will charge commercial truck drivers with DWI if their BAC is more than 0.04, and they will charge those under 21 with DWI if their BAC is more than 0.02.
Factors That Affect Accuracy
According to the National Motorists Association, multiple studies have confirmed that breathalyzers have a margin of error of approximately 50 percent. That means if a breathalyzer produces a reading of 0.1, that individual’s actual BAC could be anything from 0.05 to 0.15. Some factors that affect breathalyzer accuracy include:
- Foreign substances in the mouth such as toothache medication, mouthwash or breath fresheners;
- Poor calibration;
- Drained batteries;
- Software glitches or bugs;
- Human error;
- And environmental vapors such as varnish or paint fumes.
If you are facing DWI charges after failing a breath or blood test, it is important to remember that you still have rights. Contact White Plains criminal lawyer Darren DeUrso, Attorney at Law to discuss defense strategies that apply to your case. Call 914-772-8614 to schedule a consultation.