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Breathalyzer laws and common defenses in Mississippi

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2022 | Criminal Defense

An officer in Mississippi may pull suspected drunk drivers over to test them for impairment. A common test used to check for DUI is the Breathalyzer, but it can be challenged.

Overview of Breathalyzer testing

A Breathalyzer predicts a person’s blood alcohol content by having the person blow into a tube. The breath sample produces a color reaction that determines if the suspect has alcohol in their system.

If a standard driver registers 0.08 or higher, which is the legal limit, they could get charged with DUI. This limit is even lower for commercial drivers at 0.04, and it’s 0.02 for drivers under 21.

Defenses to Breathalyzer test results

Drivers must submit to chemical testing under implied consent laws, but the test results may not be accurate. State law requires occasional calibration, or testing the software, of Breathalyzers to ensure accurate results. The defendant’s lawyer may request the paperwork through a court order that shows the device has been calibrated.

Some medical conditions, such as hypoglycemia and diabetes, may give false results because of the acetones these conditions produce. A low-carb diet may also raise acetone levels in the body, leading to a higher reading. Foods with yeast could even skew the results.

Officers must have the proper training to use the device correctly, or its evidence may not be admissible. Even if they are trained, they need reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over, such as excessive speeding.

Mississippi law requires the officer to have probable cause to make an arrest for observing and testing. They must observe the driver for 15 minutes before they administer the breath test and inform them of the consequences of refusal.

Drivers may refuse chemical testing, but refusing can result in an immediate 90-day license suspension. However, it doesn’t mean there aren’t errors in the case or valid reasons for refusal.