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The portable breath test says you are drunk, so that’s it. Right?

Perhaps you stopped on the way home after work and had a cocktail with your colleagues. You didn’t think you would have a problem getting home safely because you didn’t feel impaired. You got into your car and set out for home.

Then, the worst happened. You saw flashing lights in your rearview mirror. When the officer approached your vehicle and began talking to you, something makes them suspect you are driving impaired. You submitted to a portable breath test, which put your blood alcohol concentration at 0.08 or higher.

Should you trust the results?

The portable breath test provides enough probable cause for an arrest, but even authorities don’t rely on the results. Once in custody, you will submit to another breath test or a blood test, and those results will more than likely be the ones prosecutors rely on in court. Why shouldn’t you trust the results of the roadside breath test? They are fraught with errors caused by factors such as the following:

  • Calibration is essential to the proper functioning of breath testing machines. If the batteries aren’t changed and the machine calibrated periodically, it probably won’t provide accurate results.
  • Portable breath testing machines have software like any computer, and it could have glitches and bugs that affect accuracy.
  • Some foreign substances such as certain tooth medicines, mouthwashes and breath fresheners could contain alcohol and cause bad results.
  • If there happen to be certain chemicals in the environment present, such as varnish, paint fumes and more, it could skew the results of your test.
  • The officer may not use the machine correctly. Human error can easily cause you to end up under arrest.
  • Portable breath testing machines are meant to be used multiple times in order to receive a more accurate reading. Additional testing, including a blood draw, could be more accurate. However, you do not have to consent to a blood draw.

Any of these issues could mean that the results of the portable breath test were wrong, so you shouldn’t make any decisions that affect your future based on it. Instead, you may want to consult with a South Dakota criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to explore your legal options and gain an understanding of your rights.