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Can you challenge breath test results in a California DUI case?

If you are already facing potential driving under the influence (DUI) charges in California, you likely understand how serious such charges can become. Even if this is your first offense, a conviction or guilty plea could result in fines, loss of your license and social consequences, including issues with your job.

The good news is that, like anyone else accused of a crime, you have the right to push back against criminal charges and defend yourself against DUI allegations. Many people feel like if they failed a breath test, they will have no chance of defending themselves in court. However, it is actually possible to challenge the results of a chemical breath test in criminal court in California.

Both user error and maintenance issues can compromise test results

Breath testing systems are relatively complex machines that look for a family of chemical compounds in the air you exhale. It is possible for a wide variety of issues to cause problems with test results, from the presence of other compounds in the same chemical family in your breath to issues with the machine itself. For example, routine maintenance is incredibly important.

Without proper calibration, a breath test unit may return false positives or false negative results. Determining the last time that the unit was calibrated and inspected for maintenance issues can help you decide if that will help your defense.

User errors can also be a source of problematic test results. If it has been some time since the officer involved in your stop received proper training or if there is any reason to believe they improperly administered the test, that could also help you challenge breath test results in court.

Certain medical issues can also cause false positives

If you find yourself wondering how the test result was positive and there is no documentation to indicate any issues with maintenance or test administration, it may be time to visit a doctor. There are several medical conditions that can result in false positive tests with standard breath testing machinery.

These include conditions where bacteria create alcohol in your body and even untreated early diabetes. Ruling out medical issues as a cause of a false positive is an important step in developing a defense strategy for California DUI charges.

While you may instinctively think that pleading guilty is your best option when facing a DUI, mounting a rigorous defense is often a better choice. A conviction can haunt you for years, impacting everything from your insurance premium to your ability to secure a promotion at work. If you find yourself facing DUI charges when you know you are not under the influence, you need to speak to somebody as soon as possible about your options for a defense.

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