Can Breathalyzer Test Results Be Wrong?

Web Admin - Thursday, February 11, 2016

breathalyzer test results, Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney Many people who are facing DUI charges wonder if there was something wrong with the breathalyzer device they used when they were pulled over and arrested. How likely is it that breathalyzers give false positive readings? 

While breathalyzer testing is more accurate than other subjective field sobriety tests, breathalyzer tests can still be incorrect or inaccurate. If you believe that the breathalyzer test results that you gave prior to your DUI arrest are inaccurate, it is imperative to secure legal representation immediately.

Breathalyzer Testing

When you are pulled over in Illinois, and the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated behind the wheel, the officer can administer a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer test is a chemical test that assesses how much alcohol vapor is on the breath of the individual taking the test. This data generally correlates to an individual’s blood alcohol concentration level. 

Under Illinois’ Zero Tolerance law, 625 ILCS 5/11-501.8, any underaged driver who has a blood alcohol concentration reading of 0.01 or higher will lose his or her license and be arrested. Under Illinois DUI laws for individuals over the age of 21, 625 ILCS 5/11-501, drivers with a BAC of 0.08 are presumed to be driving while under the influence of alcohol.  

Illinois is an implied consent state, meaning that by using the roads in Illinois a driver automatically consents to be subjected to chemical testing when suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. Individuals do have a right to refuse a breathalyzer test, but there are steep consequences for refusal. For instance, when a person refuses to take a breathalyzer test, his or her driver’s license is automatically suspended in accordance with 625 ILCS 5/6-203.1. 

Why Can Breathalyzer Test Results Be Incorrect?

There are a number of reasons why breathalyzer test results can be inaccurate. If one of the following scenarios applies to you and your breathalyzer test, you should consult with your DUI criminal defense lawyer to see if you can build a viable defense based on your situation. Breathalyzer test results could be inaccurate because:

- The breathalyzer device may be malfunctioning;

- Law enforcement improperly administered the test;

- Law enforcement failed to calibrate the breathalyzer device before it was used;

- You may have a health condition that makes you give a false reading on a breathalyzer test; or

- You consumed or used alcohol, but not of the type that could make you drunk or unable to operate a vehicle. Examples might include:

- Consuming cough medicines that contain high levels of alcohol;

- Wearing certain lip plumpers on your lips;

- Using certain vaping products (i.e., electronic cigarettes or e-cigs), which contain alcohol and can be so concentrated on the breath of a user that the user can produce a measurable reading on a breathalyzer; and

- Using certain mouthwash or breath sprays, which can artificially raise a person’s breath alcohol content. 

If you are facing DUI charges or you have reason to believe that the chemical testing administered to you prior to your or DUI arrest is inaccurate, please speak with an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney today. Our firm serves the communities of the northwest suburbs, including Inverness, Arlington Heights, Long Grove, Barrington, South Barrington, Riverwoods, and Mount Prospect. 





Underage DUI Penalties in Illinois

Web Admin - Tuesday, September 02, 2014

underage drunk driving DUI, Illinois DUI lawyerThe State of Illinois takes all instances of DUIs seriously, but it punishes people under the legal drinking age even more severely. This is because, according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 25 percent of fatal car crashes involving teens include at least one underage drunk driver

In order to deal with this issue, the state imposes the standard DUI penalties on underage drivers, and it also tacks on extra zero tolerance penalties. These zero tolerance penalties involve suspensions of driving privileges in circumstances beyond those that would ordinarily qualify as a DUI, and may even involve penalties accruing to the parents of the driver as well.

Standard DUI Penalties

Underage drivers under the influence of alcohol are still subject to standard DUI penalties, but these penalties differ from the DUI penalties for people over the age of 21 in two important respects. First, these penalties are harsher than ordinary DUI penalties. The penalties include a possible $2,500 fine and a license revocation of at least two years, along with up to a year in prison. A second offense comes with the same penalties except that the minimum license revocation increases to five years. Second, these penalties are easier for underage drinkers to trigger. Ordinarily, a DUI charge requires a person to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of greater than .08. This is still true for underage drinkers, unless there is other evidence proving they were impaired. If such evidence exists, the required BAC drops to .05.

Zero Tolerance Penalties

In addition to the above penalties for an actual DUI charge, underage drinkers can face a host of driving-related penalties. For instance, even if an underage driver registers below a .05, they may still face penalties under zero tolerance laws. Zero tolerance penalties apply to underage drivers who register more than a .00 BAC without triggering full DUI penalties. These zero tolerance penalties include a three-month suspension of driving privileges for a first offense, and a one year suspension for a second offense. Additionally, the law doubles these penalties if the young driver refuses to consent to the necessary testing.

The law also imposes extra penalties on the parents of underage drunk drivers in certain circumstances. If death or great bodily harm results from the parents knowingly allowing underage drinking in their home, then prosecutors may charge the parents with a class 4 felony, which comes with a prison sentence ranging from one to three years and a fine of up to $25,000. Additionally, the parents may be liable for any damage that occurs because of underage drinkers leaving the premises.

If you or your child has recently been charged with a DUI or similar crime, seek help from an Illinois DUI attorney. Our skilled team of lawyers serves clients across the northwest Chicago suburbs, including in Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, and Deer Park.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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