Stopped by the Oklahoma City police officer for suspicion of a DUI? There are only two outcomes from a Oklahoma City DUI traffic stop: free to go or arrested. Before a DUI arrest, the officer who stopped you will administer a breathalyzer test to determine your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Legally, a 0.08% BAC limit is set for drivers above 21, while drivers under 21 may be arrested for any detectable level of alcohol. 

Drivers are allowed to refuse to take a Field Sobriety test for suspicion of DUI. However, this comes with a different set of consequences, including revoking their driving privileges.

If you have submitted to a breathalyzer test, the chances are high that a device known as an Intoxilyzer 8000 will be used. The good news is our Oklahoma DUI attorneys at Cannon & Associates have successfully represented many clients in such cases, challenging the breath-test result and getting them a favorable outcome, including dismissal of your DUI case.

Blood Alcohol Content and DUI Breathalyzer Testing

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) represents the level of alcohol in an individual’s blood. BAC is measured using a breathalyzer or actual blood test. The breathalyzer method uses equipment that measures the alcohol content in your breath and the blood test is an actual laboratory test of your blood-alcohol content. 

Law enforcement officers use breathalyzers to detect drivers’ blood alcohol content and establish grounds for a DUI arrest. In Oklahoma, drivers over the age of 21 are not allowed to have a BAC of 0.08% or higher. At 0.08% BAC, the driver is deemed impaired and can be arrested and charged with a DUI offense. As this level of BAC is considered to create a threat to the driver, as well as others on the road due to driving under the influence of alcohol. 

While drivers may believe they aren’t “that” intoxicated and are capable of driving, unfortunately, there’s no other way to your BAC except a breathalyzer or chemical test. Law enforcement officers in Oklahoma use the Intoxilyzer 8000 device to create probable cause to arrest drivers under the suspicion of DUI. 

How does the Intoxilyzer 8000 work?

Police officers often ask drivers to blow into the breathalyzer for several seconds to detect their gather a breath sample as the basis for blood alcohol level. The Intoxilyzer 8000 will pick up on the blown air and calculate the driver’s BAC based on an established ratio.

One problem with the Intoxilyzer 8000 is that its results aren’t always accurate. The breathalyzer’s inaccurate results may be due to discrepancies in the breath provided by the suspected driver, the calibration of the machine, other conditions, or the ratio upon which the BAC is calculated.

Inaccuracies based on the breathalyzer’s ratio can be traced back to the Intoxilyzer 8000’s reliance on infrared spectrometry to measure BAC. The device measures how quickly certain breath molecules are absorbed by light and uses this, in addition to a 1:2100 breath-to-blood ratio, to calculate the final BAC.

What Factors Influence the Intoxilyzer 8000’s Results?

There have been many cases where our Oklahoma DUI attorneys have challenged the breathalyzer reading recorded for clients during a DUI arrest. The motions were based on a common factor that influences the breathalyzer’s reading and the inconsistencies of results provided.

1. Calibration of Intoxilyzer Equipment and Breathalyzer Results

Breathalyzer devices, such as the Intoxilyzer 8000 require routine maintenance and calibration testing. As highlighted by a recent Oklahoma Supreme Court decision, Breathalyzer may be insufficient to establish evidence beyond a reasonable doubt for a DUI offense when the maintenance results are flawed, or calibration procedures were not followed. When law enforcement or police departments do not have written standards or procedures governing maintenance, the results are inaccurate and BAC results can be far above the actually breath alcohol of the suspect arrested for DUI. 

Intoxilyzer machines have a specific maintenance schedule and failure to properly maintain the maintenance will result in inaccurate Breathalyzer results and potentially DUI arrests that are not appropriate. There’s no set maintenance routine for the Intoxilyzer 8000’s intake valve, which is prone to clogs. When clogged, the machine assumes the driver had not provided a proper breath for the test and, as such, issues a refusal to blow. 

The clog may also affect the outcome of the driver’s BAC test, recording 0.08% or higher figures for them. If you’ve recently been arrested for a DUI, you may be a victim of this irregularity. Our attorneys can examine your case to determine the right legal strategy for your Oklahoma DUI defense case.  

2. Gastroesphageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and Breathalyzer Results

Some medical conditions directly impact BAC readings for breathalyzer tests. Gastroesphageal reflux disease (GERD) is a medical condition, which can change the BAC results of your Breathalyzer test. GERG can even cause false positive tests for breathalyzers, which can result in your being arrested for DUI in error.

Breathalyzer machines are intended to measure the alcohol content in your lungs’ lining. However, experts have determined your deep lung air provides the most accurate BAC measurement. For those that suffer from GERD, alcohol often moves from the stomach into the back of the throat, which causes a much higher BAC reading that an accurate calculation of the person’s BAC.

Acid reflux following eating foods that are greasy or do not sit well with your stomach can cause elevated and inaccurate BAC test results from a Breathalyzer test as well. Acid in your breath can impact the BAC results and give false positives for being over the legal limit of .08% BAC. Therefore, GERD or other similar issues may result in false positives for BAC from a Breathalyzer test, which may be a defense and is certainly a reason to refuse a Breathalyzer test.

3. Chemical Compounds and Breathalyzer Results 

Breathalyzer machines do not measure “Blood-Alcohol Content” exactly. In fact, they measure chemical compounds or methyl groups of chemical compounds. The device recognizes these chemical compounds as ethyl alcohol, which gives a “Blood-Alcohol Content” test result.  There are roughly 80 compounds within the methyl group. Therefore, the Breathalyzer test may present a false positive due to the incorrect chemical compounds showing a result for ethyl alcohol. The following activities can result in these chemical compounds being found in your breath, which may result in an inaccurate BAC result from a Breathalyzer: 

  • Breathing in paint, propane, gasoline, or fumes from varnish
  • Acetone that is commonly found in the breath of diabetics or individuals on low-carb diets, including fasting
  • Mouth alcohol that can be a result of burping, wearing dentures, Periodental disease, or vomiting
  • Mouthwash, breath spray, consumption of Nyquil, Cough Syrup, or cold medicine
  • Some of the most common Asthma inhaler medicines

Some studies have shown that the presence of these chemicals in your body or lungs specifically can add up to .06% to your BAC results. Conversely, substances that mask the odor of alcohol, such as mints or gum do not alter the Breathalyzer results, which test the breath in your lungs. Again, this is another reason to refuse a breathalyzer test or it may be the basis of a defense in your Oklahoma DUI case.

4. Temperatures and Breathalyzer Results

The air temperature and your body temperature can impact the Breathalyzer test results as well. The presence of a fever at the time you take a Breathalyzer test can cause inaccurate test results, as well. The rate of your breathing, such as exercise or hyperventilation can impact your BAC. 

Finally, the temperature in the environment can affect your BAC readings. If the Breathalyzer is not calibrated to account for the outdoor temperature, it can present an inaccurate reading. The environment and your body temperature may be another reason to refuse a breathalyzer test or it may be the basis of a defense in your Oklahoma DUI case

5. Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) and Breathalyzer Readings

All devices that use electricity contain electronic circuitry, including Breathalyzer devices. Electromagnetic interference (EMI) can emanate from any electronic device, which can interfere with the Breathalyzer’s results. The most common example of this issue is a microwave’s impact on pacemakers or other devices in your home.

Police stations are tech heavy and use many instruments with substantial electronic circuity, i.e. dispatch radio transmitters, cellphones, walkie-talkies, and computers. Therefore, these devices can emit EMI that may impact the Breathalyzer’s results, which may be a defense to challenge the accuracy of your Breathalyzer test. Again, we advise you refuse a Breathalyzer test; however, if you take the state’s test, it may be the basis of a defense in your Oklahoma DUI.

Should I Doubt the Breathalyzer Results in my DUI? 

As discussed above, Breathalyzer devices, such as the Intoxilizyer 8000 can provide inaccurate results, which cause DUI arrests that should not take place. Breathalyzer machines can have results that are inaccurate due to a number of factors. These are some of the most common issues with Breathalyzer devices; however, the most important take away should be to always question BAC results from a Breathalyzer test and work with an experienced Oklahoma City DUI defense attorney to build a strong defense against the Breathalyzer test results in your DUI case. 

There are many defenses and procedural steps that may be taken in your Oklahoma DUI defense, including evidentiary hearings, suppression hearings, and expert witnesses to attack inaccurate Breathalyzer results. 

Your Fierce Advocates® at Cannon & Associates are well-versed in representing clients facing Oklahoma DUI charges and attacking inaccurate or questionable Breathlyzer results. We understand the situation you or your loved one are facing, whether for your driver’s license revocation or your DUI defense in state court. We are familiar with the Intoxilyzer 8000’s weaknesses and will use these technicalities to your advantage to defend you in your DUI case.

Contact – Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Fierce Advocates for DUI Defendants

Your Fierce Advocates® at Cannon & Associates, have the experience you need to represent you and your loved ones in any Oklahoma DUI offense. We have successfully handled hundreds of cases in the past for clients facing every type of DUI offense, from first-offense DUI or APC to vehicular manslaughter DUI or Felony DUI. Contact Cannon & Associates by completing the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-883-4427 to have your questioned answered by our team in a free confidential case strategy session.