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Understanding Your Oakland DUI: How does a Breathalyzer Work?

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Oakland, Berkeley, Castro Valley, or anywhere in the Bay Area, you may have taken a Breathalyzer test. Many officers carry breathalyzers so that they can check a suspect's breath alcohol to see if he or she is over the legal limit of 0.08%. So, how do breathalyzers work? Do they actually measure the alcohol in your blood?

The answer is no. What they do is detect and measure the amount of methyl in your breath. They do this by using a technology called infrared spectroscopy. When you breathe into the tube that is connected to the machine, your breath sample is captured and analyzed with beams of infrared energy. If they detect methyl, they will record this data and use it to determine if you have been drinking too much.


The main trouble with breathalyzers is that alcohol is not the only thing that can give off methyl. In fact, there are 60 different compounds that contain chemicals from the methyl group, including some mouthwashes, industrial paints, and even glues. If you are a diabetic, you likely have a higher acetone concentration in your breath, which can trigger false positives if you blow into a Breathalyzer. Likewise, if you burp or belch just prior to taking a Breathalyzer test, it can also trigger a false positive.

If you are a smoker, it is also more likely that you will trigger a false positive when taking a Breathalyzer test. Researchers have discovered that after a few drinks, smokers have higher levels of methyl in their lungs – up to 30x more than non-smokers.

What does this mean? This means that if you have taken a Breathalyzer test and been arrested and charged with a DUI, it may not be completely accurate. Your attorney can review the data and determine if the Breathalyzer test results were inaccurate or false.

Contact Oakland DUI Defense Attorney

If you or someone you love has been arrested for drunk driving or DUID in Oakland, it is important to understand the severity of these charges. Call the Oakland DUI Defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Nabiel C. Ahmed today to begin building a solid defense against these serious charges. You can stay out of jail and even get your license back with the right defense. Call today at (510) 907-6600 or fill out our confidential contact form for more information.

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