Roadside DWI breath test results may not always prove accurate

| Mar 23, 2020 | Firm News |

New Yorkers facing charges of driving while impaired may take some comfort in knowing that roadside BAC testing devices may not always produce accurate results. Law enforcement officials reportedly use different types of portable breath test devices during traffic stops, and some do not consistently provide an accurate intoxication level.

New York Times investigators discovered and reported that improperly calibrated and poorly maintained devices contribute to providing faulty blood alcohol level readings. Lack of training in a device’s correct usage may also lead to a skewed breath analysis. When an inaccurate test result shows that an individual’s BAC level is 0.08% or more, however, an officer will most likely place a motorist under arrest.

Implied consent serves as a mandatory breath test requirement

When issued a New York driver’s license, a motorist provides his or her implied consent to submit to a breath test when showing signs of impairment. A law enforcement official has the authority to stop a vehicle at any time that its driver has violated a traffic rule. A broken taillight, speeding or running a red light may lead to a routine traffic stop. If the motorist appears impaired, the officer can request a breath test.

Refusing to submit to a breath test may result in an arrest and a DWI charge. A first-time offender may find his or her driver’s license suspended for up to one year and receive a $500 fine. A subsequent refusal to submit to a breath test may lead to a permanent loss of driving privileges. Losing a driver’s license could make it difficult or impossible to work; a driver may, however, contest a DWI charge.

Motorists have a right to contest BAC test results

For a variety of reasons, a faulty breath test reading may result. A roadside device could incorrectly display a motorist’s BAC as much as 40% higher than the actual level. A prosecutor, however, must prove a motorist’s impairment level at the time of the arrest. If the court finds a BAC test did not provide accurate results, a charge may not result in a conviction.