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DUI Breath Test in Georgia

The Intoxilyzer 5000 is the breath test machine used by most jails. It is used to measure blood alcohol concentration following a DUI arrest. The major problem with breath test machines, like the Intoxilyzer 5000, is the margin of error. Because the legal blood alcohol limit is so specific (.08 percent), even the slightest inaccuracy can result in charges being filed for DUI Per Se. One of the strongest defenses that a DUI attorney can use is to attack the accuracy of the breath test device, thereby calling into question the accuracy of the results.

The Intoxilyzer 5000 (and devices like it) is designed to allow law enforcement to gather evidence of your blood alcohol concentration without actually drawing a blood sample. The problem is that a sample of your breath can only provide an ESTIMATE of your blood alcohol concentration, based on the amount of ethanol on your breath. There are several variables that affect deviation between your breath and blood alcohol.

First, not all individuals process alcohol the same way. The ratio the machine operates on is based on the “average” person. That ratio represents alcohol in blood to alcohol on the breath. The Intoxilyzer 5000's results is based on the assumption that every individual tested processes alcohol the same way. This, of course, is not the case.

For example, the breath test does not take into account that there is a difference in your breath/blood ratio between your absorption phase and your elimination phase. During the absorption phase, a person's body is still in the process of absorbing alcohol. During the elimination phase, alcohol is on its way out. Depending on where you are in this process, your breath/blood ratio could be significantly different than what the Intoxilyzer 5000 is set to.

The Intoxilyzer 5000 can also give false readings if the tests are not administered properly. It can also provide erroneous reading if the unit is in a state of disrepair or is not hooked up to a proper power source

Finally, law enforcement administering the test must instruct the arrestee when to blow and must also inform them to "keep blowing" until the test is complete. Some individuals are deemed to have “refused” to submit to a chemical test simply because they did not “complete the test” as instructed by the administrator. This “refusal” can result in a 1 year suspension of your driver’s license.

This is just a quick overview of some of the problems with the Intoxilyzer 5000 and breath tests in general. For more information, you can visit my website at If you have questions, you can email me at [email protected] or call me at 770-729-4809.

- Jason Carnell

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