Breath Test Machine Calibration – Challenge a breath reading

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Conor Johnstone

M.A.J. Law frequently challenge the results provided by intoxilyser devices. Many police stations fail to correctly maintain breath testing machines in line with strict requirements imposed when the type-approval orders came into force. In certain circumstances the machine can over-estimate the proportion of alcohol in your system, showing a higher alcohol-concentration. This could result in heavier penalties and longer disqualifications. It is crucial that you discuss the breath readings and intox printout (if you were given one) with a specialist solicitor.

There are three breathalyser devices that are type approved by the Home Office for use in drink driving cases. These are;

  • Lion Intoxilyser 6000 UK
  • Camic Datamaster
  • Intoximeter EC/IR

A report was recently commissioned by the Home Office into the evaluation of the purge/blank cycle of the Intoximeter EC/IR.

During a breath test cycle, a number of simulator checks and blank checks should take place. These are known as ‘purge / blank’ checks. The “purge” step is intended to clear the machine between breath specimens. The “blank” check involves the machine checking whether there is any ethanol in the analytical chamber. If ethanol is found, the test will automatically be aborted and an error message displayed.

Ultimately, the purpose of these calibration checks is to determine whether the device has produced an accurate indication of the proportion of alcohol in your system. If the calibration checks fail, the procedural officer should then require a specimen of blood or urine, pursuant to Section 7(3) Road Traffic Act 1988. He should not go on to require further specimens of breath from you.

You can read more about breath test devices

at our dedicated drink driving ‘breath‘ page.

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Conor Johnstone

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