If law enforcement arrests you on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, you may think you have no choice but to plead guilty.

Do not do anything hasty. From administrative mistakes to equipment malfunctions, there are several possibilities for error in an arrest, including results from a breath test device that authorities have not calibrated properly.

About breath test devices

A breath test device records your blood alcohol content level. For most drivers, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08%. For commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04% and for underage drivers, the limit is zero. Of course, technology enables the breath test device to do its job, but it is also a piece of equipment that can run into unexpected issues. An incident that occurred in Philadelphia illustrates this point.

About the Philadelphia incident

In the summer of 2016, an attorney notified the police department in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that the calibrations on their breath test machines had expired. The department immediately removed all the devices from service, had the problem fixed and put them all back on the line the same day.

The “problem” was that a solution, an important component of the machine, had expired. The sole purpose of the solution is to establish accurate blood alcohol readings. That the police department had neglected to calibrate the machines in a timely manner meant that the outcomes of hundreds of DUI cases from the first half of the year could be in question.

Defense attorneys could say that because of the lack of proper calibration, the breath test evidence from those cases was inadmissible in court.

About other issues

Other questions surrounding your arrest for DUI could extend to the person operating the breath test device; for example, did he or she receive proper training? And what about the arrest itself—did the arresting officer follow the proper procedures?

In view of questions like these, you may have a better outcome by exploring your options through the legal system rather than assuming that a guilty plea is your only option.