Breathalyzer Instruments in Philadelphia DUIs

If suspected of driving under the influence in Philadelphia you will likely be asked to take a breathalyzer test. Below a Philadelphia DUI lawyer discusses this test and what you should know. To learn how the results of a breathalyzer could affect your case call and schedule a consultation today.

The current breathalyzer machines known as the BAC machines in Philadelphia are amongst the most accurate in the country currently.

In the past, Philadelphia has had problems like the rest of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in maintaining such machines. Now, however, it is much more a concern of the police to make sure these machines are what we call calibrated, taken care of, maintained and tested on a regular basis. As a result of this, the breathalyzer machines these days are much more reliable in and of themselves, and are maintained in such a way that their accuracy is held to a much higher standard. They are much more accurate than they have been in the past.

Common Myths about Breathalyzers in Philadelphia DUIs

Some of the larger misconceptions about breathalyzers start at the fact that an individual feels that when asked by a police officer to take a breathalyzer test, they have the right to say no. While they do have the right to say no, it doesn’t come without consequences.

If an individual says no to a breathalyzer after being given what we call an “O’Connell warning” or warnings about what happens to you if you refuse to give a breathalyzer, they will lose their license for 1 year regardless of the outcome of the DUI charge.

In addition, should they be later convicted of DUI, that’s a total of a 2-year license suspension. So, one of the most misconceived notions is that it’s okay at times if you feel you’re under the influence not to take a breathalyzer. And in fact, it is not okay.

Our recommendations and the recommendations of many other experienced Philadelphia DUI attorneys is that when requested, always undergo a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer is always better for the defense and it’s only testing for alcohol in the system.

Breathalyzer vs. Blood Tests

When given a choice between a breathalyzer and a blood test, always choose the breathalyzer test because it only tests for alcohol. On the other end of the spectrum, a blood test, which is often done by a needle draw, can test for any substance in the system. So, any controlled substance, anything from illegal drugs to legal prescriptions, and if someone doesn’t have a prescription, or has taken too much of a particular dose of a prescription medicine, that can give them a DUI charge also.

In order to preserve your rights and in order to give you the best chance to win an acquittal, a person should always submit to a breathalyzer.

Inaccuracies in Breathalyzer Results

Generally breathalyzers used today have already overcome the false positives or the inaccurate readings because of the new calibration of such machines.

In the past, false positives were common, in that these machines weren’t maintained and tested on a regular basis. So, the last person who may have used the breathalyzer especially when there were many breathalyzers given on a particular night, could have caused a second person in line to have a false positive.

Nowadays, the machines are much more reliable. They’re much more technologically advanced and before a machine can be used on a second person, it must be calibrated, cleaned and all filters changed and there must be proof of such.

The police are required to keep a log of all information pertaining to the machine and that log is then subpoenaed and or requested by defense attorneys so as to challenge the commonwealth’s chain of custody for the item.

In some cases, when police do not follow protocol and you have an experienced Philadelphia DUI attorney on your side, certain breathalyzer results can be struck from cases, thus making cases much easier to fight and leading to many more acquittals.

Calibration of Breathalyzer Instruments

The calibration of machines is at the core of what needs to be done in order to prove that a breathalyzer machine is accurate. In the past, calibrations were done on a random basis and some machines were never calibrated at all, thus leading to false positives or inaccurate or high BAC scores even though the individual wasn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When a machine is calibrated, it is tested against an individual with no blood alcohol reading whatsoever. The machine should test to zero. It’s a control group.

And once that’s done, we can determine that the machine has been properly calibrated and is reading correctly. Once a person is subjected to such a machine, a filter is then replaced in the machine and it’s tested again before it can be used on someone else.

This is one of the main reasons why the accuracy has become so much better and that it’s a whole other area for experienced defense lawyers, especially experienced Philadelphia DUI attorneys to challenge the manner in which the police have gone about calibrating it.

  • Did the police follow the recommended rules?
  • Did the police change the filters?
  • Had the machine been checked often enough which in some cases can be daily?
  • And is it given a proper reading for the proper individual?

All reasons the defense and experienced Philadelphia DUI attorney can challenge the evidence and in some ways have the evidence stricken against the person.