November 16, 2023 By WK MKT

Are Breathalyzers Accurate? What Else Can Be Used?


If you’ve ever been pulled over for a suspected DUI in California, chances are you were asked to take a breathalyzer test. These devices have become a common tool used by law enforcement officers to determine if someone is driving under the influence of alcohol.

But how exactly do breathalyzers work? And why are they so widely used in California and other states? This article will examine how breathalyzers work, their accuracy, as well as alternatives that can be used. 

Having a skilled and experienced defense attorney on your side is crucial if you are facing DUI charges. Choosing Wallin & Klarich to represent your case puts you in a better position to receive the best outcome for your case. We have over 40 years of experience in Southern California. Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL  for your free consultation!

How Breathalyzers Work

First, let’s break down what a breathalyzer actually measures – your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). When you consume alcohol, it gets absorbed into your bloodstream and is then carried to your lungs where it evaporates and can be detected in the air you exhale. This is why breathalyzers use a breath sample to estimate your BAC.

In California, like most states, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08%. This means that if your BAC measures at or above this level, you can be charged with a DUI. However, it’s important to note that even if your breathalyzer reading is below the legal limit, you can still be arrested for a DUI if other evidence suggests impairment.

How Accurate Are Breathalyzers?

But how accurate are these devices? The answer is, it depends. Breathalyzers are calibrated to measure the alcohol content in your breath, but they can also pick up on other substances that may be present. For example, if you recently used mouthwash with a high alcohol content or have consumed certain medications, it could affect the reading on a breathalyzer.

So why are breathalyzers used so frequently in California? The answer lies in the state’s strict DUI laws and penalties. In addition to the legal limit for BAC, California has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21 who have any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. This means that even a small reading on a breathalyzer can result in serious consequences for young drivers.

Furthermore, California also has an implied consent law, which means that by simply getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, you are giving your consent to submit to a chemical test if you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI. Refusing to take a breathalyzer or other chemical test can result in automatic license suspension and additional penalties.

If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important to have an experienced defense attorney on your side. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 40 years of experience representing cases like yours. Call our office today for a free consultation!

Alternatives to Breathalyzers

Breathalyzers are not the only tools at law enforcement’s disposal. Below are some common alternatives that can be used:

Field Sobriety Tests: Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) are one alternative often used. These tests, such as the one-leg stand test, the walk-and-turn test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, assess a person’s balance, coordination, and eye movements, which can be affected by alcohol. The reliability of FSTs varies, with studies showing accuracy rates between 65% and 77%.

Blood Testing: Another alternative is blood testing. This is considered the most accurate method of measuring BAC, with near 100% accuracy. However, obtaining a blood sample is more invasive and time-consuming, requiring a trained medical professional and a sterile environment.

Urinalysis: A third alternative is urinalysis, which can detect alcohol consumed within the past 80 hours or so. However, urine tests are typically less accurate than breath or blood tests due to the delay between alcohol consumption and its appearance in urine.

Saliva Test: Lastly, there’s the saliva test, which is relatively new in the field. It involves taking a saliva sample from the inside of the individual’s mouth. While this method is non-invasive and easy to administer, its accuracy is still under scrutiny, though some studies suggest it can be a reliable indicator of BAC levels.

Each of these alternatives has its pros and cons, and the choice to use one over the other often depends on the circumstances at hand.

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you or a loved one are facing a DUI charge, you need an aggressive defense attorney to fight for your freedom. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of clients win their cases or get their charges reduced to a lesser degree. We know the most effective defenses to argue on your behalf, and we will do everything in our power to help you achieve the best possible result in your case. 

You may not be aware of all your options. Calling our office costs you nothing, but picking up the phone could be the difference between years in prison and years of freedom. Let our skilled attorneys examine your case to find the best way to avoid prison.Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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