How Long Does Alcohol Stay on Your Breath?
Breathalyzers often overestimate the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood.
Generally, alcohol particles remain in the breath for longer than it takes the body to process and remove three or four drinks, which is between 12 and 24 hours. So, a suspect could fail a Breathalyzer test and not be legally intoxicated at the time. However, Georgia has a per se DUI law. A valid Breathalyzer test is conclusive evidence of intoxication. Fortunately, Breathalyzer tests have several other flaws. Some of these flaws are outlined below.
An Atlanta criminal defense attorney leverages the Breathalyzer's weaknesses and other flaws in the case to help defendants avoid the harsh direct and indirect consequences of DUI. The direct consequences include jail time, high fines, community service, and loss of your privilege to drive. Sky-high insurance rates are probably the worst indirect consequence. Employment consequences are a close second. Many potential employers refuse to hire people with DUIs on their records.
Beating the Breathalyzer
Despite all its bells and whistles, the modern Breathalyzer is nothing but an updated version of a 1920s Drunk-O-Meter. Both devices use breath alcohol levels to estimate blood alcohol levels. That extra scientific step creates some possible issues, such as:
- Calibration: Breathalyzers are very sensitive and delicate instruments. If the device has not been properly maintained, or the prosecutor does not have compelling evidence on this point, the Judge may exclude breath test results. That exclusion basically makes a case fall apart like a house of cards.
- Unabsorbed Alcohol: This flaw is similar to the unusually long measurement period. When people drink alcohol, it travels from the stomach to the liver to the blood. So, if the defendant had recently consumed alcohol, the breath test results will be artificially high. The body has not absorbed most of that alcohol into the bloodstream.
- Mouth Alcohol: As it is currently applied, Georgia law does not require officers to closely watch defendants before they provide breath samples. So, it is probable that the defendant belched or burped before taking the test. If that happens, alcohol particles from the stomach flood into the mouth, skewing the results.
Frequently, an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer partners with a degreed chemist, or even a chemistry grad student, to highlight these and other flaws to jurors. Such witnesses have more credibility than the state’s “expert,” who is usually a police department-trained Breathalyzer technician with little or no scientific training.
Resolving a DUI
These Breathalyzer challenges often convince Judges to exclude breath test results. If that happens, prosecutors must rely on circumstantial evidence, mostly from the walk and turn or other field sobriety tests, and the conviction rate drops dramatically. If that happens, prosecutors are often willing to replace DUI charges with reckless driving. This offense is also a misdemeanor, but unlike a DUI, which goes on your criminal record, a reckless driving charge is a traffic violation and only goes on your driving record.
Regardless of the charge, a conviction usually means probation. Atlanta criminal defense attorneys can negotiate more favorable terms, such as early termination of probation, or non-reporting probation.
Connect With a Tough Gwinnett County DUI Defense Lawyer
Breathalyzer results do not always hold up in court. For a free consultation with an experienced Norcross criminal defense lawyer, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters throughout the Peach State.