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Alcohol Breath Tests Subject to Error Due to Cigarette Smoke

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,597 people were killed in United States traffic accidents in December 2010. Of those, 775 deaths involved alcohol-impaired drivers. There were more than 10,000 traffic fatalities in 2010 involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent, equivalent to almost one-third of all traffic deaths.

 

Georgia's Driving Under the Influence Laws are complex. Clayton County DUI injury attorney Shane Smith can sort through the intermingled laws that potentially create complications in a DUI case.

 

A 52-year-old man in another state was wrongly charged with DUI after an alcohol breath machine malfunctioned. The man was initially pulled over by police for running a red light. The officer said he smelled alcohol and asked the driver if he had been drinking. The driver acknowledged that he had one beer about two hours earlier. The officer then had the driver blow into the alcohol breath machine and it registered 0.15 percent blood alcohol content (BAC), nearly double the legal 0.08 percent limit.


The driver, who had his two minor daughters in the car, then satisfactorily performed field sobriety tests. He did the alcohol breath test again and it again registered 0.15 percent. The driver was arrested for DUI and two counts of child endangerment.

 

Upon arriving at a mobile DUI station the man was tested again and his BAC came back with a "zero reading". It was later determined that the man had been smoking just before he was pulled over. When a breath test is given, police policy calls for a 15-minute observation time with no food, drink or ingested substances. The cigarette smoke likely created the erroneous reading.

 

If you have questions about Georgia DUI laws, get the answers in Clayton County DUI injury attorney Shane Smith's book, I Was Hit By a Drunk Driver: What Do I Do Next? Contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith to schedule a free legal consultation.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia