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Is failing a Breathalyzer test an automatic conviction?

If you recently failed a Breathalyzer test during a traffic stop, you're probably facing drunk driving charges. Drivers approach this situation in different ways, with some throwing up their hands and assuming there is nothing they can do about it while others immediately get to work building a strong legal defense in Florida.

Building a defense against drunk driving charges may not always lead to seeing the charges dismissed or reduced, but simply doing nothing almost always leads to a conviction. Some prosecutors may even see a lack of defense as an off-the-record, unofficial admission of guilt, and may seek the maximum punishment for the defendant.

Breathalyzer devices are not perfect, even when they are properly maintained and used correctly. If you choose to examine each aspect of your traffic stop, sobriety test and arrest, you may find weaknesses in the case against you, which you can use to build your defense. The sooner you begin, the more time you have to understand your options and keep your rights secure throughout the process.


A Breathalyzer is a measuring device, and like many measuring devices, it requires ongoing calibration. If you have ever been to an airport and looked at the scale used to weigh luggage, you may have seen that the scale is not calibrated and displays some number greater than zero even when there is nothing on it. Breathalyzers are similar, and without proper calibration, a suspect may "fail" a test simply because the test results are not accurate.

It is wise to question the calibration of a Breathalyzer, because even a little bit of poor calibration can mean the difference between passing and failing a sobriety test.


Even if a Breathalyzer is properly calibrated, it still needs regular maintenance. Breathalyzers that do not receive regular maintenance may encounter mechanical problems that lead to bad test results, and you may be the one paying the price. Like calibration, it is wise to question the maintenance of a Breathalyzer before accepting its results.

Other considerations

A well-calibrated and maintained device is still no match for operator error. Police officers undergo training to use Breathalyzer devices properly, but mistakes do happen while in the field. While you examine the officer's use of the Breathalyzer, it is also useful to consider every part of the interaction, potentially including any footage available. By carefully reviewing each part of your traffic stop and arrest, you may identify poor conduct by the officer that a court may not approve.

Ultimately, it is better to use the legal tools and guidance that you have available to build a strong defense than to give up and assume there is nothing you can do. Simply failing a Breathalyzer is not an automatic conviction, if you make your defense a priority. A strong legal defense ensures that you receive fair treatment and keeps your rights protected, regardless of the verdict.

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Levine & Susaneck, PA
3003 South Congress Avenue Suite 1G
Palm Springs, FL 33461

Phone: 561-820-2967
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