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What are the shortfalls of roadside alcohol breath tests?

Driving while under the influence of alcohol increases your risk of getting into a crash, as well as your risk of injuring other people. The potential danger involved in impaired driving is one reason why Arkansas takes a firm stance against it. Those who cause crashes or get caught by law enforcement officers while driving under the influence face criminal and civil consequences.

In order to enforce the rules of impaired driving, Arkansas law enforcement officers have the authority to stop people's vehicles and administer chemical tests as well as roadside sobriety tests in order to verify whether someone is under the influence. Everyone on the road has to submit to these tests if ordered to during a stop.

Many people think of chemical breath tests as the ideal testing option for drunk drivers. However, breath tests are not as accurate or reliable as you might think they are.

Chemical testing units require maintenance and updates

Portable chemical breath tests are complex pieces of machinery. Although designed to be user-friendly and simple to administer, these tests can fail for any number of reasons. For example, if an officer or a police department fails to perform routine maintenance, the test may not give accurate results. Downloading the most recent software updates can also impact the performance of a task unit.

Beyond that, the officer who administers the test needs to be up-to-date on the best practices for doing so. They also need to make sure that the unit is properly calibrated before they attempt to administer a test. Finally, they need to take care to ensure that they follow protocol while performing the test, as minor mistakes could drastically skew the results.

Even properly calibrated units can return inaccurate results

Even if a breath test unit is in perfect condition and the officer administering it knows what they need to do, the breath test can still return a false positive that has lasting consequences for the driver involved. There are several medical conditions, including unmanaged diabetes, which could result in false positives on chemical tests for alcohol.

It is often possible for those facing impaired driving allegations to challenge the results of an alcohol breath test, especially if there are issues with the officer's education or the device's maintenance. Even if the breath test itself is valid, there are potentially other defense strategies that could help you minimize the long-term impact of pending criminal charges.

If you or someone you love has recently faced arrest for impaired driving and there is a failed breath test as part of the state's evidence, it may be a good idea to sit down with an experienced Arkansas criminal defense attorney to discuss options. The right defense strategies can minimize the consequences for these charges.

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