When a portable roadside device shows you have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more, an officer can arrest and charge you with DWI. If you believe that a faulty test result caused your arrest, however, you may argue your case in court.
Law enforcement officials use various device models to determine a BAC level. Certain types may not reliably provide a correct reading during a temporary alteration to your body chemistry.
What could affect a roadside breath test?
As noted by WebMD, breath mints or smoking may change the amount of alcohol detected in your breath. Your gender and weight could also affect how quickly your body digests alcohol. Depending on when a law enforcement official stops your vehicle, some trace amounts of alcohol may remain in your breath after imbibing only a small amount of an alcoholic beverage.
Blowing into a roadside device only provides an estimate of the alcohol in your system. If an officer uses a device incorrectly, it could show a much higher BAC level. Combined with a slight chemical change, a reading may result in a DWI charge.
Can penalties for a DWI conviction include incarceration?
North Carolina has five levels of misdemeanor DWI charges. Level V is the least serious offense, and penalties can include spending 24 hours in jail and paying a maximum fine of $200. Level I reflects the most serious DWI charge; if convicted, penalties may include up to two years in jail and a $4,000 maximum fine.
Contesting a roadside breath test result may help avoid a conviction or reduce the severity of your punishment. Rather than incarceration, a judge could order you to perform community service or suspend your driving privileges until you complete a treatment program.