Breath Testing Defenses

Breath Testing Defenses


Breath testing has so many potential issues one almost does not know where to start. Provided below are several general articles that give good overviews of breath testing and the potential problems. Following those are articles that deal with individual topics. Once again, the articles are split between those favorable to the prosecution, those favorable to the defense, and those provided for general information.

Some jurisdictions have excluded the blood breath ratio as an issue, but they have not excluded the underlying factors that give rise to the variability in the blood breath ratio, such as breath temperature, breath volume, arterio-venous differences, hematocrit, and mouth alcohol; however, recent case law may have changed the way these defenses can be applied in California Courts .

Whether a particular article on interfering substances is relevant depends on the type of breath testing instrument. Fuel cell instruments will be subject to different interfering substances that infra-red instruments, and different frequency infra-red instruments will have different sensitivities to infra-red interfering substances.

General Physiology 

“Biological Aspects of Breath-Alcohol Analysis,” Dubowski, K. Clin Chem 20:294 (1974).

“Physiological Aspects of Breath-Alcohol Measurement,” Jones, A. Alcohol, Drugs and Driving 6:1 (1990).

“Physiological Errors Associated with Alcohol Breath Testing,” Hlastala, M. Champion 9:16 (1985).

Blood-Breath Ratio 

“A Historical and Experimental Study of the Breath/Blood Alcohol Ratio,” Jones, A; Wright, B; Jones, T. Year of Conference: 1974 Conference Name: Alcohol, Drugs, and Traffic Safety [Proceedings of Int. Conf.] 6th:509.

“Significance of Variations in Blood:Breath Partition Coefficient of Alcohol,” Alobaidi, T; Hill, D; Payne, J.
British Medical Journal 2:1479 (1976).

“Statistical Analysis of Blood- to Breath-Alcohol Ratio Data in the Logarithm-Transformed and Non-Transformed Modes,” Labianca, D; Simpson, G. Eur J Clin Chem Clin Biochem 34:111 (1996).

“The Blood/Breath Ratio of Ethanol,” Dubowski, K; O’Neill, B. Clinical Chemistry 25:1144 (1979).

“Variability of the Blood/Breath Alcohol Ratio in Drinking Drivers,” Jones, A. Journal of Forensic Science 41(6):916-921 (1996).

“Variability of the Blood- to Breath-Alcohol Ratio and Its Effect on Reported Breath-Alcohol Concentrations,” Labianca, D; Simpson, G. Eur J Clin Chem Clin Biochem 33:919-925 (1995).

“Variability of the Blood: Breath Alcohol Ratio in Vivo,” Jones, A. J Stud Alcohol 39:1931 (1978).

Mouth Alcohol 

“Alcohol Breath Tests: Criterion Times for Avoiding Contamination by ‘Mouth Alcohol,’” Caddy, G; Sobell, M; Sobell, L. Behavior Research Methods & Instrumentation 10:814 (1978).

“Breath-Alcohol Concentration May Not Always Reflect the Concentration of Alcohol in Blood,” Trafford, D; Makin, H. Journal of Analytical Toxicology 18:225 (1994).

“Alcohol Breath Tests: Gross Errors in Current Methods of Measuring Alveolar Gas Concentrations,” Spector, N. Science 172:57 (1971).

“Ethanol Content of Various Foods and Soft Drinks and Their Potential for Interference with a Breath Alcohol Test,” Logan, B; Distefano, S. Journal of Analytical Toxicology 22:181-183 (1998).

“Mouth Alcohol: Some Theoretical and Practical Considerations,” Denney, R; Williams, P, Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety, p. 355 (1987).

“The Effect of Dentures and Denture Adhesives on Mouth Alcohol Retention,” Harding, P; McMurray, M; Laessig, R; Simley, D; Correll, P; Tsunehiro, J. Journal of Forensic Sciences 37:999 (1992).

“The Elimination Rate of Mouth Alcohol: Mathematical Modeling and Implications in Breath Alcohol Analysis,” Gullberg, R. Journal of Forensic Sciences 37:1363 (1992).

Breath Temperature 

“Breath Temperature: An Alabama Perspective,” Carpenter, D; Buttram, J. IACT Newsletter 9(2):16 (1998).

“Effect of Hyperthermia on Breath-Alcohol Analysis,” Fox, G; Hayward, J. Journal of Forensic Sciences 34:836 (1989).

“Effect of Hypothermia on Breath-Alcohol Analysis,” Fox, G. Hayward, J Journal of Forensic Sciences 32:320 (1987).

“Quantitative Measurements of the Alcohol Concentration and the Temperature of Breath During a Prolonged Exhalation,” Jones, A. Acta Physiol Scand 114:407 (1982).

“The Effect of Mouth Temperature on Breath Alcohol Concentration,” Wright, B. Journal of Physiology 163:21 (1962).

“The Influence of Breath Temperature on Assessments of Blood Alcohol Level by Breath Analysis,” Legge, D. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol 26:371 (1965).

Breathing Pattern 

“How Breathing Technique Can Influence the Results of Breath-Alcohol Analysis,” Jones, A. Med Sci Law 22:275 (1982).

“The Effects of Hypo- and Hyperventilation on Breath Alcohol Measurements,” Mulder, J; Neuteboom, W. Blutalkohol 24:341 (1987).

Interfering Substances 

“Biotransformation of Acetone to Isopropanol Observed in a Motorist Involved in a Sobriety Check (Case Report),” Jones, A; Andersson, L. Journal of Forensic Sciences 40(4):686-687 (1995).

“Diabetes, Breath Acetone and Breathalyzer Accuracy: A Case Study,” Brick, J. Alcohol, Drugs and Driving 9:27 (1993).

“Diethyl Ether Interference with Infrared Breath Analysis,” Bell, C; Gutowski, S; Young, S; Wells, D. Journal of Analytical Toxicology 16:166 (1992).

“Interfering Substances Identified in the Breath of Drinking Drivers with Intoxilyzer 5000S,” Jones, A.W; Andersson, L; Berglund, K. Journal of Analytical Toxicology 20:522 (1996).

“Intoxilyzer Interference by Solvents,” Edwards, M; Giguiere, W; Lewis, D; Baselt, R. Journal of Analytical Toxicology 10:125 (1986).

“Isopropanol Interference with Breath Analysis: A Case Report,” Logan, B; Gullberg, R; Elenbaas, J. Journal of Forensic Sciences 39:1107 (1994).

“Observations on the Specificity of Breath-Alcohol Analyzers Used for Clinical and Medicolegal Purposes,” Jones, A. Journal of Forensic Sciences 34:842 (1989).

Quality Assurance 

“Quality Assurance in Breath-Alcohol Analysis,” Dubowski, K. Journal of Analytical Toxicology 18:306 (1994).

Barometric Pressure 

“Breath Alcohol Analysis and its Independence of Atmospheric Pressure,” Labianca, Dominic 17 (2) Journal of Analytical Toxicology 120 (1993).

“A Note Upon Barometric Pressure and Breath Alcohol Analysis,” Mason, M.F. 19 Journal of Forensic Science 325 (1974).


“Limited Electromagnetic Interference Testing of Evidential Breath Testers,” National Traffic Highway Safety Administration.

“Alcohol Breath Analyzers and Radio Frequency Interferences,” Llaurado, J. International Journal of Bio-Medical Computing 16:3 (1985).

“Radio Frequency Interference,” Samija, B; Shajani, N: Wong, B. Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal 18:211 (1985).

“RFI and Breathalyzers,” Feldman, J; Cohen, H. Cambridge Technical Associates.

“Alcohol Breath Analyzers and Radio Frequency Interferences,” Llaurado, J.International Journal of Bio-Medical Computing 16:3 (1985).

“Effects of Electromagnetic Fields on Evidential Breath Testers,” Adams, J.Institution: National Bureau of Standards — Electromagnetic Fields Division (1981).

Website Builder