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Georgia DUI Myths

Myth: Driving at 0.08 is dangerous or a driver is impaired.
: A University of Utah study found that drivers talking on cell phones with and without earbuds were more dangerous than drivers who had consumed enough alcohol to be over the 0.08 legal blood alcohol limit for most states.  See blog link  Strayer, D. Human Factors, Summer 2006; vol 48: pp 381-391. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: “DUI/DWI Laws.” News release, University of Utah.

Myth Mouthwash or breath spray will help you beat a DUI.
Fact: Mouthwash or breath spray is the worst thing you can do when faced with a DUI.  Both mouthwash and breath spray will artificially inflate alcohol breath tests.

MythSucking on pennies will fool a DUI breath machine.
Fact: Pennies do not affect alcohol breath test results.

Myth: “Alcohol on the breath” is a reliable sign of alcohol consumption and intoxication.
: Alcohol is odorless. The smell of alcoholic beverages is no alcohol on the breath but is actually the odor of the things in or ingredients of the alcoholic beverages. Non-alcoholic beer like Odouls will produce the same smell as drinking a regular beer. Georgia law even recognizes that a mere odor of alcohol is not enough to convict someone of DUI.

MythA Breath test will clear diabetics who exhibit characteristics of alcohol impairment like slurred speech, confusion, stumbling, sleepiness, uncoordinated behavior, and red face cause them to fail field sobriety tests.
: Diabetics frequently have acetone in their breath, which Breath Test Machines can confuse with alcohol in the bloodstream.

MythField sobriety evaluations are validated by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, and accurately identify drunk drivers.
: The three standardized tests the HGN(eye jerking test), Walk and Turn, and One Leg Stand are 77%, 65%, AND 68% when performed under ideal conditions with those under 65 years of age, with no back, leg, knee, ankle or inner ear conditions on a flat, level, dry, debris-free surface in heels less than two inches.  On the side of a highway at night with strobe lights flashing sometimes in the shivering cold, these conditions are rarely met.  Further, Police Officers rarely perform these tests as they are trained.  The results are stupid people’s tricks as opposed to field sobriety evaluations.

MythAlcohol breath test machines are accurate.
: There are many sources of error in breath tests. Mouth alcohol, acetone, radio frequency interference, certain solvents, and chemicals, mouth wash, asthma inhalers which contain albuterol suspended in ethanol or alcohol vapor. Even in the absence of any of these common problems and under ideal conditions, alcohol breath testers simply lack precision. The Georgia Intox. 5000 breath testing manual states that breath testing has inherent sample variability of 0.01 for one sample and 0.02 for two samples.

This means that under ideal conditions, which is a highly unlikely situation, a breath alcohol reading of .08 reflects an actual blood alcohol reading of anywhere from .06 to .1. That is a margin of error of 25 percent of the legal limit. At the under 21 level of .02, the error rating is 100%!

MythA person accused of DUI by breath test is presumed innocent.  The presumption of innocence is guaranteed by both the U.S. and Georgia Constitutions.
: Although the presumption of innocence is guaranteed by law, it is denied in fact with a state-administered breath test.  The breath test is presumed accurate and you have to prove it doesn’t work by hiring an expert to debunk the test or having an extremely effective cross-examination by an experienced DUI lawyer using the Officer’s own training materials.

MythLaw enforcement officers can’t influence the BAC reading of a breath-testing machine.
: Law enforcement officers can and do influence BAC readings. The first part of lung air, after discarding the dead space, has an alcohol concentration much lower than the equivalent Blood Alcohol Content. Whereas, the last part of lung air has an alcohol concentration that is much higher than the equivalent Blood Alcohol Content. The last part of the breath can be over 50% above the alcohol level. Thus, a breath test reading of 0.14% taken from the last part of the breath may indicate that the blood level is only 0.09%.” Thus, police often yell at drivers “Blow, Blow, Blow, Blow” much longer and deeper than is necessary for the machine to inflate the result.

MythAlcohol breath testers measure the concentration of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream (blood alcohol concentration or BAC).
: Alcohol breath machines don’t actually measure blood alcohol content, which can only be achieved with a blood test. They attempt to measure alcohol in the breath to estimate the concentration of alcohol in the blood. As a result, not all states permit alcohol breath tests.  Alcohol breath machines detect any chemical compounds that contain the methyl group in their molecular structure. There are thousands of such compounds such as gasoline, glue, acetone, asthma inhalers, paint, paint remover, “new car smell,” celluloid, cleaning fluids, etc.

Breath Machines also assume as constants certain ratios within the human body that actually vary widely from person to person and within the same person over time. For example, many breath-testing machines assume a 2,100-to-1 ratio in converting alcohol in the breath to estimates of alcohol in the blood. However, this ratio varies from 1,900 to 2,400 among people and also within a person over time. Some breath analysis machines assume a hematocrit (blood cells as a percentage of blood volume) of 47%.  By comparison, Lance Armstrong may have a hematocrit level of 47-49%, but anything over 50% is considering blood doping and would result in a two-year ban from professional cycling like the Tour de France or Tour de Georgia.  However, hematocrit values range from 42 to 49% in men and from 37 to 47% in women. These machines appear to discriminate against female suspects. These machines assume a body mass of an average male and do not account for individuals with higher body fat.  The machines assume an average body temperature.  Can you say junk science?