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Breathalyzer Test in New York

When a person is pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New York, law enforcement officers will often use a breathalyzer test to determine the driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The results of the breathalyzer test can be crucial evidence in a DWI case, and can have serious consequences for the driver if the BAC is over the legal limit. As such, it is important for anyone facing DWI charges to understand how breathalyzers work. It is also important to immediately contact an experienced New York DWI lawyer if you are charged with a DWI offense. A lawyer who is experienced with DWI cases will under the limitations of breathalyzers and will understand how to challenge the results, if necessary. Stephen Bilkis & Associates has over 20 years of experience representing clients charged with DWI, DWAI, underage DWI, and related offenses. We have the skill and resources to help.

Breathalyzer Tests

A breathalyzer is a device that measures a person's BAC by analyzing the alcohol content in their breath. The device is commonly used by law enforcement officers to determine whether a driver is driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). In New York, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. NY Veh & Traf L § 1192.2. The threshold is lower if you are under the age of 21. NY Veh & Traf L § 1192-A

Breathalyzers work by using a chemical reaction to measure the amount of alcohol in a person's breath. When a person drinks alcohol, the alcohol is absorbed into their bloodstream and eventually makes its way to their lungs. When the person exhales, the alcohol in their breath is measured by the breathalyzer.

There are different types of breathalyzers, but the most commonly used in New York are handheld devices that are used on the side of the road during traffic stops. These devices are portable and easy to use, making them a convenient tool for law enforcement officers.

When a person is stopped for suspicion of DWI, the officer will usually ask them to take a breathalyzer test. If the person consents, they will blow into the device, and the breathalyzer will measure the alcohol content in their breath. If the BAC is above the legal limit, the person can be charged with DWI.

However, breathalyzers are not infallible. They can produce inaccurate results if they are not calibrated correctly or if they are not used properly. There have been cases where people have been falsely accused of DWI because of inaccurate breathalyzer results.

If a person is charged with DWI based on breathalyzer results, they should speak to an experienced New York DWI lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can evaluate the evidence against the person and determine whether there are any defenses that can be raised. For example, if the breathalyzer was not calibrated correctly, the results may be thrown out.

In addition to handheld breathalyzers, there are also breathalyzer machines that are used in police stations and other locations. These machines are more accurate than handheld devices, but they are also more expensive and less portable. They are usually used in cases where a more accurate measurement of BAC is needed.

Note that while breathalyzers are widely used in cases of suspected DWI, they are not the only evidence that may be presented by the prosecution. As an experienced DWI attorney in New York will explain, law enforcement also use urine tests, field sobriety tests, and their observations to make determinations as whether someone should be arrested for suspected DWI.


People v. Harris, 25 N.Y.3d 1045 (2015). In the case, the defendant was charged with DWI after being stopped by police. The defendant underwent a breathalyzer test, which showed a BAC of 0.15%. During the trial, the defense argued that the breathalyzer machine used to measure the defendant’s BAC was not properly calibrated and was not in proper working condition at the time of the test. However, the prosecution did not present any evidence to show that the breathalyzer was in proper working condition at the time of the test.

The court held that the prosecution must prove that the breathalyzer machine used to measure the defendant’s BAC was in proper working condition at the time of the test. The court reasoned that breathalyzer tests are scientific evidence that require proper calibration and maintenance to be accurate. Therefore, the prosecution must present evidence to show that the breathalyzer machine was properly calibrated and in proper working condition at the time of the test. The court noted that the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and that a defendant does not have to show that the breathalyzer was not properly calibrated or maintained.

People v. Harris clarified the requirements for the admissibility of breathalyzer evidence in New York DWI cases. The decision established that the prosecution must present evidence to show that the breathalyzer machine used to measure the defendant’s BAC was in proper working condition at the time of the test. The decision is significant because it ensures that breathalyzer evidence is reliable and accurate, and that defendants are not unfairly convicted based on faulty or unreliable evidence. The decision highlights the importance of ensuring that breathalyzer machines are properly calibrated and maintained, and that law enforcement officers are properly trained in their use.

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Breathalyzer tests can be a powerful tool for law enforcement in determining whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol. However, these tests are not infallible and can be subject to challenge in court. If you have been charged with a DWI based on the results of a breathalyzer test, it is important to consult with an experienced DWI attorney serving New York who can help you evaluate the evidence and mount an effective defense. A skilled attorney can challenge the results of the breathalyzer test, as well as any other evidence used against you, and work to minimize the impact of the charges against you. Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Westchester County, and Suffolk County.