Over the past few decades, most Nebraska residents have learned to trust technology. How many times have you heard the phrase, "computers don't lie?" So when you ended up being pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, you may not have questioned the results of the breath test that said you were at or above the legal limit.
The problem is that you should question the results. Breath testing machines are not infallible. Like other electronic devices, they may not lie, but they may be wrong since these machines also require routine maintenance and calibration just like any other device. In addition, like computers and smartphones, they are only as good as the person using them.
What is the purpose of a breath-testing machine?
In order to place you under arrest, a Nebraska officer needs more than just his or her suspicions. Breath testing machines provide the probable cause an officer needs in order to arrest you for drunk driving. The results of these tests generally don't serve as the primary proof of DUI in court, however. Blood tests provide more accurate results, but taking blood on the side of the road is impractical. Therefore, law enforcement agencies use breath tests to meet the threshold required in order to make an arrest.
What can go wrong with a breath-testing machine?
The following issues could cause a false positive during a breath test:
- The officer made a mistake or failed to follow procedure.
- The software in the machine may not work properly due to bugs, glitches or viruses.
- The machine was not properly calibrated or not calibrated often enough.
- The officer failed to perform multiple tests in order to ensure the results are accurate.
- You may suffer from a medical condition that causes a false positive.
In addition, things like breath fresheners, mouthwashes and other alcohol-based substances you ingest could cause a false positive. Environmental factors such as varnish or paint fumes could also skew your results.
Challenging the breath test results
As you can see, any number of things can go wrong when the officer conducts a breath test. This may explain why prosecutors don't often rely upon the results of these tests. So why bother to challenge the results? Because if you cast doubt on the accuracy of the results, the officer's probable cause for your arrest could disappear. Without probable cause for the arrest, the charges against you may go away.
Obtaining the information you would need in order to challenge the breath test results may require some help. You have the right to legal representation, and it may be beneficial to take advantage of that right since the breath test is not the only part of your situation that requires careful review to determine whether mistakes or violations of your rights occurred.