If a law enforcement officer pulls you over on suspicion of drunk driving, a breath test will confirm your blood alcohol concentration level.
If this is your first experience with a possible DUI, you probably have many questions. For example, does the breath test machine always produce accurate results?
Facing a charge of DUI
In the state of Tennessee, the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol are severe. You can face jail time and lose your driver’s license for a year, you could pay a fine of up to $1,500 and your participation in an alcohol and drug program is mandatory. Unfortunately, a DUI conviction will also go on your record permanently.
Any kind of equipment can develop operational problems and that includes the breath test device, as an incident in Philadelphia illustrates. In 2016, an attorney informed Philadelphia police that the breath test machines they were using were out of date: The solution used to establish blood alcohol concentration levels had expired, and therefore the accuracy of the readings would be in doubt. The machines were immediately taken off line and the expired solution replaced in each device.
Creating a defense
From a legal standpoint, the problem was that because of the expired solution, the attorneys defending drivers accused of DUI could argue that the results from the breath tests they took would be inadmissible in court. The attorney who alerted the Philadelphia police estimated that the issue could affect the outcome of hundreds of cases.
To answer your question as a first offender, breath test machines can, in fact, have accuracy issues. Your legal team will have other questions, such as whether the person who administered the test received proper training, or whether the officer who pulled you over even had a right to do so in the first place. Knowing how serious DUI penalties are, an investigation into the circumstances surrounding your arrest, including the kind of testing used, will be very thorough so as to produce the best possible outcome for your case.