Challenging the Breath Test (Part II)
Undetected, raw, unabsorbed alcohol in the mouth may falsely elevate the results of a breath test. This residual mouth alcohol (RMA) can come from items ingested just prior to the test, from regurgitated (burped) air from the stomach, or from gastroesophogeal reflux. Ohio testing protocol attempts to guard against this testing flaw by requiring officers to observe the defendant for twenty minutes prior to the test. They look for burping, vomiting or any ingestion of items into the mouth. Lazy observation by the police officer can result in a contamination of the test.
The BAC DataMaster, Ohio’s most common breath testing instrument, further guards against this type of problem with “slope detectors” wich look at the air coming into the machine. If the air is too heavily laden with alcohol it changes the shape of the curve and should result in the machine kicking out an “INVALID SAMPLE” reading. This reading requires the officer to start the observation period over again. Good DUI attorneys know the science behind the “slope detector” and its operation and can effectively explain this to a jury. Charles M. Rowland II is a certified operator of the BAC DataMaster.