Factors that can impact Breathalyzer accuracy

| May 14, 2019 | Firm News

When police stop you and think you may be drunk, they will undoubtedly ask that you submit to a breath test using a Breathalyzer device. A lot rides on the results of that breath test, so you want to be sure its measurements are completely accurate. Unfortunately, a number of different factors can potentially lead to an inaccurate Breathalyzer reading. If your breath test shows a falsely elevated result, you may be looking at steep fines, substance abuse requirements and possibly even time behind bars, among other possible repercussions.

Some factors that can offset Breathalyzer accuracy have to do with the device itself, while others have to do with environmental conditions or human errors. Just what types of factors can cause inaccurate breath test results?

Poor calibration

Breath test devices must undergo regular and precise calibration to deliver accurate results. In some cases, Breathalyzers undergo calibration improperly or infrequently, and this can call into question the validity of their readings.


Temperature, too, has the potential to throw off the results of your breath test. In some instances, outside temperatures and subject temperatures have impacted breath results due to the highly sensitive nature of the devices.

Electrical interference

Odd as it may sound, electrical signals can impact breath test readings. Electrical interference from, say, police radios or nearby cellphone towers can also potentially lead to a falsely elevated Breathalyzer reading.


If you have diabetes, you may have acetone on your breath, even if you have not consumed alcohol. This can make it appear as if you have alcohol in your blood, when, in fact, you have it in your mouth as a result of your condition. However, a breath test device cannot always tell the difference.

Many aspects of your future depend on the results of your breath test. If you have reason to believe the results of yours were not accurate, it may prove wise to voice your concerns.