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Breathalyzers used to determine impairment in drunk driving cases

Law enforcement officers in Georgia are trained to perform certain sobriety tests on suspected drunk drivers. One test that is commonly used to determine impairment in drunk driving cases is the Breathalyzer test. How does a Breathalyzer work and is it always accurate?

If one is involved in a traffic stop for suspected impairment, the officer on scene will likely ask for a breath sample. To collect this, the Breathalyzer machine will be provided by the officer. Now, it is possible to refuse the officer's request, but failure to comply is not without consequences -- such as an automatic license suspension.

The Breathalyzer test involves two vials that hold a variety of chemicals that change color if alcohol is detected. When one blows into the machine, the sample goes to the first vial and if alcohol is present a chemical reaction takes place, causing the photocell system which is in the second vial to change color. This then produces a readout of one's blood-alcohol content. The greater the change in color, the higher one's BAC readout will be.

Breathalyzer tests are believed to be extremely accurate. However, failure to clean or calibrate the machine between uses or issues with the chemicals in the vials can all cause false readings. Georgia residents who have been charged with drunk driving do have the right to question the accuracy of their BAC readouts. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist with this and can also take any further actions needed to help fight the charges at hand.

Source:, "How Breathalyzers Work", Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D., Accessed on April 19, 2017

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