Does Your Breathing Pattern Really Affect A Breathalyzer Test Result?

As a professional, you can’t afford to be out of your office for an extended period of time. The last thing you need is to have an inaccurate breathalyzer test leads to your DUI arrest.

Although these tests are often the critical factor in determining either innocence or guilt in a drunk driving case, there are factors that may render a breath test inaccurate. One such factor is your breathing pattern. As hard as this may be to believe, there are clinical studies that have determined that the breathing pattern of the person tested can vary the results of a breathalyzer test significantly. You owe it to yourself to be aware of this, and – if you feel your test has been manipulated or is inaccurate – to engage the services of an attorney who is an expert in this branch of the law to handle your defense.

breathing pattern really affect breathalyzer test result

A Breathalyzer Test Can Be Affected By Breathing Patterns

In one study, for instance, a control group of men were given moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages and then, utilizing a gas chromatographic analysis, their blood-alcohol levels were measured. This was followed by varying the control group’s breathing techniques and then performing another analysis. It was discovered that holding one’s breath for as much as 30 seconds prior to exhaling actually increased the reading for blood alcohol concentration by as much as 16 percent. It was also established that if one hyperventilated for as much as 20 seconds prior to the test, their blood levels registered significantly lower. Keeping the mouth closed and breathing shallow increased the blood alcohol reading as did testing after a long exhalation.

The Landmark Study by Michael P. Hlastala, Ph.D.

According to his Dec. 2002 study entitled: “Breathing-Related Limitations to the Alcohol Breath Test”, Dr. Hlastala, a University of Washington professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Biophysics concluded:

“By far, the most overlooked error in breath testing for alcohol is the pattern of breathing . . . The first part of the breath, after discarding the dead space, has an alcohol concentration much lower than the equivalent BAC. Whereas, the last part of the breath has an alcohol concentration that is much higher than the equivalent BAC. The last part of the breath can be over 50% above the alcohol level . . . Thus, a breath tester reading of 0.14% taken from the last part of the breath may indicate that the blood level is only 0.09%.”

 

How Police Officers Might Influence Breathalyzer Results

It is possible for a  police officer to register higher blood alcohol levels by varying breathing patterns in the persons for whom they perform a breathalyzer test. This can be done by making sure the people they are testing breathe long and hard. Breath is then captured by the breathalyzer machine and may render a higher, though possibly inaccurate, reading of one’s blood alcohol level.

 

Other Factors Possibly Affecting Breathalyzer Tests

Aside from varying the breathing techniques of those taking a breathalyzer test, there are several other factors that might render an inaccurate blood-alcohol level. A good DUI attorney will investigate these possibilities to ensure their clients receive the best possible defense:

  • Uncalibrated breathalyzer devices: Sometimes an arresting officer has failed to properly calibrate the breathalyzer device they are using. This can result in faulty results.
  • Poor health: Person suffering from asthma or other respiratory ailments, as well as diabetes and GERD, may register inaccurate results for blood alcohol.
  • Medications: Certain cold and sleep medicines contain alcohol which has been know to register a blood-alcohol result on a breathalyzer test.
  • Mouthwash: This common household product also contains high levels of alcohol which have the potential to affect blood-alcohol readings.

 

If You Are Charged With A DUI

Here in the Seattle area, DUI Attorney Matthew Leyba and his team at Leyba Defense offer a selective practice that focuses on successful results, not just a long list of clients. Matthew Leyba will take the time to focus on the details of your important case, giving you the personal attention required to best represent you. As a NHTSA qualified administrator of field sobriety tests, Matthew knows everything about the test that state troopers and police officers know. Because he is fully aware of the possibility that your blood-alcohol level test may have been higher due to a manipulation of your breathing, he is prepared to litigate your defense to the fullest extent.

 

Contact Us

If you have recently been charged with a DUI in the Seattle area, contact Matthew Leyba and his team of professionals at Leyba Defense for a free consultation. Matthew’s experience and expertise have earned him numerous awards, and he has been a featured speaker at numerous Washington Young Lawyers Trial Advocacy CLE Programs.