Accuracy of breathalyzers | Loughlin FitzGerald, P.C.
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Accuracy of breathalyzers

When Connecticut drivers are pulled over on the road, there may sometimes be a breathalyzer test in their future. Because these devices are frequently used to determine how much a driver has had to drink, some people may wonder about their accuracy. According to AlcoholAlert.com, accuracy can vary depending on several points.

Breathalyzer accuracy can sometimes depend on whether or not the device experiences technical problems. The amount of blood in a person’s cells, along with body temperature, can affect a breathalyzer reading. Tobacco, blood and even cellphone interference may make someone’s blood alcohol content seem higher than it actually is. Additionally, people may also appear to have lower BAC levels because of exercise.

Breathalyzers may sometimes identify too many ethyl molecules in a person’s system. The compound in alcoholic drinks is similar to compounds in the human body made of methyl molecules. People who are dieting or diabetic may receive a breathalyzer reading which suggests they are intoxicated because of their acetone levels. Additionally, BAC is estimated, not measured, by these devices. This means that breathalyzer results might be up to 15 percent different than a person’s actual BAC levels.

Because of these variations, it has been suggested that blood tests be used to determine BAC levels. The National Motorists Association says that blood tests are generally more accurate than breathalyzers. Comparisons between the two methods show that there can be a margin of error as high as 50 percent when only a breathalyzer is used. Because of this wide margin, it has been suggested that only readings which are higher than the state’s legal threshold should be considered proof of intoxicated driving.

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