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How often do Breathalyzer tests need to be recalibrated?

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2020 | Drunk Driving

Calibration should be a hot topic if you’ve been accused of a DUI after taking a Breathalyzer test. All Breathalyzer tests used in a legal capacity should be calibrated in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. If a Breathalyzer has not been calibrated, then it could mean that the individual’s breath sample won’t be accurate.

Not calibrating the test can easily lead to the test reading too high or too low, which is harmful in multiple ways. If the test is wrong and someone is highly intoxicated, letting them continue to drive would be potentially disastrous. If they are not intoxicated, a high blood alcohol concentration reading could result in the hassle of a legal case when they didn’t do anything wrong.

How often should Breathalyzer tests be calibrated?

How often a Breathalyzer test should be calibrated will depend on the specific model being used. For example, many of the pro-grade Breathalyzers used by the police should be calibrated at least once every year. Lower-grade units, which may not be as accurate due to being used out of the legal capacity, may need to be calibrated more often.

Of course, more regular calibration is a good idea, especially if the results given don’t seem to be matching up with the individuals who are being spoken to. For example, if a driver seems completely coherent and is able to complete field sobriety tests, a BAC result of .19% doesn’t make much sense. That doesn’t mean that it’s not possible that the individual is drunk and still able to function, but it does mean that the test should be verified for accuracy.

Another time to recalibrate a Breathalyzer test is if it hasn’t been used recently. While most police officers give these tests often enough not to need regular recalibrations of high-grade models, any Breathalyzers that have sat for more than a month without use should be recalibrated.

It’s worth noting that every manufacturer is different, and they will give specific requirements for calibration. If an officer has not performed those calibrations or is not trained to do so, then your attorney may be able to help you fight the results.