If law enforcement stops you on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, they may ask you to submit to a breath alcohol test. By blowing into the mouthpiece of a handheld device, the authorities get immediate measurement of your blood alcohol concentration level. Should your results exceed the legal limit, you may face drunk driving charges. 

Forced to comply with requests from law enforcement to provide a breath sample to test for intoxication if stopped, it behooves you to have an understanding of these tests. 

The factors that affect BAC levels

According to WebMD.com, several factors affect the rate at which your BAC level rises and for how long it stays elevated. Among these includes the number of drinks you consumed, their strength and the time in which you had them. Additionally, how much and what you eat prior to drinking alcohol, as well as your weight and gender may affect your BAC level. 

The accuracy of breath alcohol tests

While a reading that exceeds the legal limit may result in your arrest, numerous factors exist that may affect the accuracy of breath alcohol tests. Professional breath alcohol tests that use fuel cell technology usually provide the most accurate readings. However, many of these devices require calibrations, software updates and charged batteries in order to function properly. Therefore, foregoing maintenance or incorrectly calibrating these devices, in addition to software glitches and other such issues may cause false results. 

Beyond factors relating to the devices themselves, some of the things you do may also impact the accuracy of a breath alcohol test reading. For example, using products such as mouthwash that contain alcohol, eating certain foods, taking certain medications or taking a drink of alcohol within 15 minutes of providing a breath sample may also contribute to false high readings.