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DC Breathalyzer Test Process

A breathalyzer test collects a sample of a person’s breath and tests the sample to generate a number referred to as a blood alcohol content. The breath sample is analyzed by a formula in the programming of the breath test. The amount of alcohol in a person’s breath is then used to calculate the person’s blood alcohol content.

DC breathalyzer test administration is an involved process that can sometimes be inaccurate, depending on how it is conducted. If an individual was subjected to breathalyzer administration that was technically incorrect, a capable DUI attorney could incorporate that into the individual’s defense. Those who have been charged with a DUI offense should speak with a skilled lawyer that could advocate for them.

Purpose of Breathalyzer Tests

A person’s blood alcohol content is used to determine the level of the person’s impairment. A higher blood alcohol content means a higher level of impairment. The police use a breathalyzer test after making an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence to gain additional evidence against a person that can be used in their DUI case.

A person should know that when they take a breathalyzer test, they are providing a police with evidence that can be used against them. That is not to say that it is always a good idea to refuse a breathalyzer test. A person should be aware that the breathalyzer test is used as evidence of their level of impairment, which can then be used as evidence to convict them of driving under the influence.

How Breathalyzers Work

The breathalyzer machine is a box with a tube connected to it. The tube has a mouthpiece at the end that a person blows into. The mouthpiece is always changed following  DC breathalyzer test administration, so that there is no carry-over from user to user.

The police change the mouthpiece and have someone blow into it. That person must give a very deep breath sample and blow for a fairly long time to be able to produce a readable sample.

Breathalyzer Test Process

The person who submits a breath test only knows that they submitted a sufficient breath sample to produce a readable result. When someone blows into the tube connected to the breathalyzer machine, the police officer asks them to continue blowing. The person has to give a very deep breath sample to produce a readable result.

When the machine has a readable result, the police officer tells the person to stop blowing. At that point, the machine produces a ticket print-out that gives the results of the breath test. That ticket print-out is sometimes given to the person who is arrested, but, sometimes, it is not. If the person does not receive a print-out of the result of their breath test when they leave the police station, their lawyer can get those results from the prosecutor in their case once their case begins and they start challenging their DUI allegation.

Medical Conditions That Can Make Taking Breathalyzer Tests Difficult

DC breathalyzer test administration may not always be possible, especially when individuals have medical issues that can impact the results. People with lung issues, bronchitis, asthma, people who are older, or those with any other sort of lung problems may not be able to produce enough of a breath sample to create a readable result. People with low lung capacity also have a difficult time. A person should be aware that if they do submit to a breath sample, they must produce a very deep lung sample to be able to produce a readable result.

Checking Breathalyzer Tests

When the police do a breathalyzer test on a person and the machine produces a read-out, the police must follow certain procedures that are reflected on the read-out. The police first do a calibration check using a pre-made sample of breath to make sure that they get an accurate result.

The police then do a blank check to clear the system out to make sure it is calibrated to zero. At that point, they ask the person to submit a sample which is listed as a subject test on the read-out. The police once again do a blank test and then a calibration check. They do a blank test, a subject test, and then a blank test again. The police must go through a number of steps to get a blood alcohol content result that is reliable and usable in court. Inaccurate DC breathalyzer test administration could result in inaccurate test results, which in turn, could weaken the prosecution’s case.

Different Breathalyzer Technologies

There are different breathalyzer machines used at various times and by different police stations. The most common kinds of breath testing machines are the Intoxilyzer, the Intoximeter. There is a newer breath testing machine called a Draper test.

The testing machines  and the program are all created  by private companies that contract with the DC government and the Metropolitan Police Department for use of their breathalyzer machines. Different police agencies and the DC government contract with private companies to be provided with their breath testing technology. The calibration requirements and the extra requirements are always the same in that they are all subject to rigorous testing and calibration to make sure they are reliable machines. Accuracy is of the utmost importance in DC breathalyzer test administration.

The DC government has followed through on those standards, and as a result, has called into question the reliability of many different types of breath testing machines. Since then, they have been experimenting with various machines to find those that are more reliable. The machines are still subject to human calibration and human accuracy tests and so, they must be carefully monitored to make sure they are used properly.

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