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How can a Breathalyzer breath test be wrong?

Many residents of New Orleans, Louisiana who get pulled over for drunk driving may be tempted to just plead guilty and accept their punishment. While sometimes this is in a person's best interests, sometimes people might do this because they do not think they can beat the charge. Specifically, they may think that their driving was not that bad, but the Breathalyzer test they took said they were over the legal limit, and the machine does not lie.

While it is true that machines do not "lie" the way human beings do, a Breathalyzer machine can be wrong in many different ways. For example, the operator could not use the machine according to its instructions. Moreover, the machine usually has a regular maintenance schedule, and not adhering to that schedule could call its results into question, even if the machine is not actually broken.

Moreover, even a machine that is working correctly can show a false positive result in certain circumstances. After all, no breath test actually measures blood alcohol content. Instead, they register the amount of acetone in a person's system and use the acetone level to estimate how much alcohol is in a person's blood.

The problem with this approach is that people sometimes have acetone on their breath for reasons other than alcohol consumption. People who have low blood sugar due to diabetes, heart disease or even stress can have a lot of acetone on their breath, which could lead to a false positive result and lead to an unjustified drunk driving arrest.

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