How Does A Breath Test Work?
Fort Wayne DUI Lawyers
When drunk driving enforcement first began, the government had to prove
you were guilty of driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Proving
that someone is drunk can sometimes be difficult if an officer is not
properly trained or if the case is not sufficiently investigated by the
government. The breath test was developed originally to assist the officer
in determining whether or not someone was intoxicated.
Breath testing is very complicated and the explanations given in this section
will, of course, be simplified. For further explanation, feel free to call
Arnold Terrill, P.C., in Fort Wayne, to speak with an experienced
Fort Wayne DUI defense attorney.
Per Se Laws
Because of a desire by most state legislatures to make it easier to convict
drunk drivers, most states enacted "Per Se" (pronounced Per
Say) laws. "Per Se" laws made it against the law to be over
a certain limit, whether you were proven to be intoxicated or not. Thus,
the breath test became used by the government to prove a certain blood
alcohol content (BAC).
A Brief History Of Breath Testing
The history of breath testing is rather long and not relevant to the breath
testing today. However, it is interesting to note that the very first
breath test instrument was developed in the state of Indiana and was called
the Drunkometer. Older devices such as the Drunkometer were not as reliable
or as scientific as some of today's instruments and, most importantly,
were not as practical because they required a great deal of care and maintenance.
Even today, scientists continue to work to create better methods for testing.
Current Technology: The DataMaster
Most evidentiary breath testing is now done by use of infrared light. Infrared
breath testing relies on the premise that infrared light will be absorbed
by the alcohol molecule. Inside the DataMaster, infrared light is directed
through a chamber in the instrument. The light goes through the chamber
and hits a detector at the end of the chamber. The detector expects to
see a certain amount of light.
When a person blows breath into the instrument, the infrared light will
be absorbed by the alcohol molecules that exist in the chamber. The detector
notices that some light is missing and then makes a calculation, based
on a computer program. The end result of the calculation is meant to be
the amount of alcohol, by weight in grams, in the person's breath.
Concerns About Infrared Testing
There are many problems with breath testing. For example, the instrument
assumes that all people have the same body temperature. And because body
temperature can make a difference in the test result, there is possible
error there. Also, the instrument assumes that all people have the same
amount of water in the body. Because water obviously dilutes alcohol,
the amount of water can be a factor in each case.
It is believed by many that infrared testing is a good way to test for
breath alcohol. However, there is a built-in possibility for error as
listed above. In addition, the instruments are not always used properly
by the states. Any evidentiary testing of a quantity or amount of any
substance requires a very accurate and thorough methodology. If the state
does not use "good science" in employing the instrument, then
the results are only as reliable as the procedure.
Consult Our Knowledgeable OWI Lawyers About Your Case
There are many scientific articles that outline the minimum standards to
be followed by any state in order to properly use a breath test instrument.
It is also important to understand what will happen if you
refuse a breath test in Indiana as well. Our firm can help you find the answers you are looking
for. Please be sure to contact an attorney with specific training within
this area of the law should you have additional questions.
If you wish to discover more about breath testing, please
contact Arnold Terrill, P.C., to speak with a Fort Wayne DUI/OWI attorney.