Many people mistakenly believe that if they had a few drinks, got pulled over and fail a handheld breath test, that they’re automatically guilty because machines don’t lie.
However, a failed PBT should always be taken with a grain of salt. Like any device, a Breathalyzer isn’t always accurate and there are several factors that can skew the results, including:
- Poor Calibration: If the Breathalyzer isn’t calibrated correctly, the Blood Alcohol Content or Concentration (BAC) reading can be extremely inaccurate. Similar issues can occur if the batteries in the device are dying.
- Your Mouth: A Breathalyzer test not only picks up on alcohol content in your breath, but can also end up detecting alcohol in your mouth. A great example is the common dentures or dental plates. These not only trap alcohol but the adhesive used to keep them in position usually contains alcohol. This obviously can adversely affect a PBT reading.
- Mouthwash: Breathalyzers look for the ethyl part of a molecule found in alcohol, but that can also be found in mouthwashes that have alcohol in them. That can absolutely skew a BAC reading.
- Your Mouth’s Temperature: The Breathalyzer device is meant to measure your BAC on the premise that your mouth is 93 degrees Fahrenheit. Studies have shown that the temperature in a person’s mouth can vary significantly, which can lead to a false positive Breathalyzer test reading.
If any of these flaws occurred when you failed the PBT, the results may be questionable in court. If the results are found to be unreliable, the Hand-Held PBT problem could actually help your case!