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Can you trust the results of a breath test?

Have you been arrested for drunk driving in Tennessee? If so, you may well feel scared and nervous about what consequences you may face if you are ultimately convicted. If you took a breath test when you were arrested, you may wonder about the accuracy of that test and how it may impact your case. You might also be wondering about how accurate a breath test device used as part of an ignition interlock device is if you will be required to use one.

In reviewing the accuracy of a breath test result, it is important to first have an understanding about breath test devices. According to BACtrack, a manufacturer of breath alcohol testing devices, these items are generally built upon one of two types of technology. One of these is platinum in fuel cell technology and it is the type of breath device used by professionals. Generally speaking, it is the more reliable of the two devices. The other is built on tin oxide for its semiconductor sensors.

Either type of breath test device may experience problems when certain fumes are in the environment or when other substances like medications, breath mints or mouthwash are involved. Operator error, software malfunction and improper calibration may also contribute to inaccurate results. The tin oxide devices are also subject to false readings when cigarette smoke, hairspray or other things are present.

Overall, blood tests are known to be the most reliable manner of properly identifying a person’s alcohol level. However, the logistical ease of using breath devices makes them the common standard.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but general information about the accuracy of breath test devices in Tennessee.


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