A Breathalyzer must be properly calibrated

The police often depend on breath tests to determine if people are under the influence or not. It sounds simple enough: If you blow into the Breathalyzer and the reading is over 0.08 in terms of blood alcohol concentration, then you were too drunk to drive and you can be arrested.

However, it’s very important for breath test devices to be calibrated properly. If not, the results may not be trustworthy. Below are a few things to know about this process:

— Times to test the device’s calibration are usually set in advance, at pre-determined intervals, and the schedule needs to be followed.

— The officers may have a list of acceptable devices, and the one used needs to be on this list.

— Regular maintenance may need to be carried out on the Breathalyzer.

— Officers need to get certification and/or training, showing they know how to use the breath test.

— When using the test, the officers must stick to the procedures they were taught during the training.

— The breath test needs to be able to give consistent readings that are not wildly different. If the same test is used on the same person multiple times in short order, the readings typically need to be at least within a 0.02 range. This is critical when the difference between 0.07 (legal) and 0.09 (illegal) is so important.

While showing that a breath test was not calibrated properly may not prove that you were sober, remember that the burden or proof is not on you. It’s on the officers. If they can’t prove you were drunk, you may be able to have the charges dropped. Be sure you know all of your legal options in Maryland and what steps to take if you want to fight the charges.

Source: FIndLaw, “Breathalyzer Calibration,” accessed Aug. 04, 2016

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