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October 2012
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Be Cautious About Disposable Breathalyzers

When you’re out on┬áthe town or at a friend’s party in Columbus, you might be attempting to keep track of your alcohol intake, hoping to keep it at a level below the legal limit so you can skip the expense of a cab. Many times, though, it might be hard to calculate exactly how much you’ve had and when you had it at the end of the night. Whenever you’re in that situation, it’s always a risk getting behind the wheel. Some companies are trying to market a product they say will solve that dilemma: the disposable breathalyzer. Before you rely on such a product for anything, however, there are a few precautions to keep in mind.

The disposable breathalyzers are small tubes, about the size of a cigarette, are for single use. The person testing their intake typically breathes into one end of the tube, and a small tube will change colors if the person’s breath indicates he or she has a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit of .08. The tests are available for sale online. They may also be available at liquor stores, and may soon be for sale at retail outlets. They usually cost just a few dollars.
One major concern about these tests is their reliability. Independent studies are being done on whether any of the devices work, and on whether some work and some don’t. In the mean time, there aren’t many independent guaranties about the product, or which product you should buy.

The bigger concern, from a DUI defense perspective, is that people might use the disposable test, drive home, get pulled over by Columbus police and think they’re OK to take the sobriety tests or the breathalyzer tests. This is a bad idea from both a BAC and a legal standpoint.

Once you drink, it takes a while for your body to absorb the alcohol into your bloodstream. Even when you stop drinking, your body is still absorbing the alcohol, and your alcohol level continues to rise. After you take a drink, your BAC may not peak for another hour. So, you may test at a .07 when you’re at the bar. But, 20 minutes later when you get pulled over and are administered the breathalyzer test, you may be at a .09. At that point, it’s off to jail.

But even if you are actually are below the legal limit, the police breathalyzer test will not always be correct. In fact, they are notoriously inaccurate. But they are still admissible in court, and they typically serve as strong evidence against the accused. It’s not even certain whether the disposable tests will be admissible as evidence on your side. Even if it is, in the eyes of the judge and jury, it’ll be the time-tested police breathalyzer against a flimsy disposable device. A good OVI defense attorney can fight that battle, but if you hand over evidence to the prosecution, like you do when you take a breathalyzer test, you make your fight a lot harder.

We can’t testify to the accuracy of the disposable breathalyzer, but we can tell you that you’re always in your rights to refuse a breathalyzer test from the police. If you’ve been pulled over after drinking, don’t ever hand over evidence to the police. Hire an experienced Columbus OVI attorney and fight the charges.

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Columbus Criminal Defense Attorney Brian D. Joslyn

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