Elements of a Breathalyzer Test

Wisconsin law enforcement officials often ask individuals suspected of drunk driving to submit to an alcohol breath test. Though some drivers may refuse to take the offered tests, doing so can result in those individuals losing their drivers' licenses through the state's implied consent law. This law, which has previously been discussed on this DUI defense law blog, states that by driving on the state's roads drivers have consented to submitting to alcohol testing.

When faced with breathalyzer testing, a driver may only know that a certain result will provide evidence of intoxication to the state's law enforcement officers and prosecutors. However, it can be helpful for individuals confronted with breathalyzer tests and drunk driving charges to understand some of the science behind these often-used alcohol assessments. This post will provide a brief overview of how some breathalyzer tests work and should only be used as a non-authoritative basis of information.

A person is tested using a breathalyzer when he or she blows air into the breathalyzer device. The device will generally contain chambers filled with chemical solutions that react with alcohol in the person's breath. When the alcohol in a person's breath reacts with the solutions in the breathalyzer device then the solutions will change color, indicating the presence of alcohol.

The degree of color change exhibited by the breathalyzer device correlates to the level of intoxication present in the tested individual. However, there are many ways that a breathalyzer device may be deficient or defective and thus may produce an inaccurate reading. Improper levels of the chemical solutions, improper calibration of the solutions to the color reading assessment and other issues may skew the results of a breathalyzer test.

Different breathalyzer tests utilize different technology but all breathalyzer tests may be subject to technical problems. An erroneous reading of intoxication may indicate that a sober driver is drunk while operating his or her vehicle. To overcome evidence of intoxication provided by breathalyzer tests, individuals may choose to discuss their defense options.