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DUI Myths and Facts

All Legal Articles

Article courtesy of Richard Jacobs, editor of MyDUIattorney.

Driving Under Influence: Top Facts & Myths

All people who have ever been pulled over for DUI, have been arrested or are in danger of being so need to consider the following facts and fiction about what’s true in DUI and what is not.


Myth: Field Sobriety Tests accurately identify who’s intoxicated because they are based on scientific evidence

Fact: According to Clemson University scientists, this is not true. A study conducted involved a video showing police officers conducting field sobriety tests on six individuals. In the video, the officers were asked to determine if the individuals were intoxicated and while, none of the individuals were actually drunk, the officers believed almost half of them to be drunk.


Myth: If an intoxicated person sucks on pennies, their BAC reading will be lowered.

Fact: Untrue! Sucking on pennies or any other type of copper will not reduce your Blood Alcohol Concentration; it will only make you look silly!


Myth: People, who don’t drink, can never be arrested for drunk driving.

Fact: Surprisingly untrue! Some people can be arrested on suspicion of DUI who don’t drink because the human body also naturally produces some amount of alcohol on a continuous basis which is independent of how much alcohol we consume. Sometimes, people whose bodies are producing more alcohol on a continuous basis can be enough for them to qualify for alcohol intoxication and therefore, liable to be arrested for DUI.

Myth: Diabetics who are suffering from slurred speech, hypoglycemia, staggering, disorientation, drowsiness, poor motor control etc. will be cleared by the Breathalyzer but will fail the field sobriety tests.

Fact: The breathalyzer will detect the acetone on the breath of diabetic people suffering from hypoglycemia and therefore almost, one of the seven people who are diabetic is at the risk of false arrest and conviction of DUI.


Myth: Breathalyzers and other breath tests are scientifically accurate.

Fact: Breathalyzers can often be inaccurate! Even if the common problems present in breathalyzers are not present, still, the tests will lack accuracy, at least to a certain degree. According to law professor and attorney Lawrence Taylor, “Scientists universally recognize an inherent errorin breath analysis, generally of plus or minus .01%.” This is a very common misconception that breathalyzers are accurate and even courts recognize the inaccuracy that is often present in breath test results and even in ideal conditions, a BAC of 0.08 actually means a BAC reading of 0.07 or 0.065.


Myth: Police officers and other law enforcement officers cannot influence the BAC reading of a breath testing machine.

Fact: Unfortunately, law enforcement officers can influence the results of a breath test and many times, they do.

According to Dr. Michael Hlastala, Professor of Physiology, Biophysics and Medicine at the University of Washington: "By far, the most overlooked error in breath testing for alcohol is the pattern of breathing.... The concentration of alcohol changes considerably during the breath...

The first part of the breath, after discarding the dead space, has an alcohol concentration much lower than the equivalent BAC. Whereas, the last part of the breath has an alcohol concentration that is much higher than the equivalent BAC. The last part of the breath can be over 50% above the alcohol level... .Thus, a breath tester reading of 0.14% taken from the last part of the breath may indicate that the blood level is only 0.09%."


Myth: Breath tests for alcohol basically measure the concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood stream.

Fact: Blood Alcohol Concentration is basically measured by analyzing a small sample of the blood so alcohol breath tests don’t really measure that. Alcohol breath testers basically measure the amount of alcohol in the blood after which the concentration of alcohol is estimated which is why this estimation is not heavily relied upon by most courts.

Alcohol breath testers mostly detect any kind of chemical compounds that contain the methyl group in its structure but there are thousands of such compounds in the blood and many of them are naturally occurring in the breath and are picked up otherwise (gasoline, paint, glue, new car smell etc.). Therefore, BAC measure is basically an estimate and is not directly measured by alcohol breath testers.


Myth: An individual that is accused of DUI or DWI has the right to contest the results of a BAC estimator machine considering that the results of a BAC estimator machine are questionable at best.

Fact: This is not true and according to the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution, the right to a jury trial is fundamental to English law. The Sixth Amendment also grants the accused the right to a public trial by an impartial jury and there are present no exceptions to this right to a trial in all criminal cases.

However, many states will also tend to deny public trials even though you might have evidence that your BAC reading is erroneous and that you are innocent of DUI.


Author Bio

Richard Jacobs is a chief editor since early 2007, and he currently works for MyDUIattorney, a Website that helps you to find the right DUI lawyer. You can search for a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer or for DWI Lawyer New Jersey online, anytime!

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