If Your Airbag Deploys in a DWI/DUI Case – Is The Final Breath Test Impacted? And If So – How Is It Impacted?
Colorado DUI Investigations – Did Your Airbag Deploy Before A Colorado DUI Breath Test For Alcohol? – Dr. Roger Hawk raises an interesting measure of reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of a breath test result from an Intoxilizer following a car accident in which airbags have been deployed.
If you have been charged with a DWI/DUI after an auto accident and the airbag deploys in the accident, it is very likely that you have inhaled the microscopic lubricating particles (talc or baking soda) which assist in the deployment of the airbag. The microscopic particles are deposited onto the mucous linings protecting the lung passages.
How Do Intoxilizers Work?
Intoxilizers test for breath alcohol. These so called breath testing machines are designed to determine the amount of breath alcohol that emanates from the lower lung region. This is known as “alveolar air.” When the DUI suspect blows into the machine the sample of air passes into a cell that examines the air using the science of “infrared spectroscopy.”
The science underlying the operation of the breath machines is based on two “laws” (1) Henry’s Law and (2) the Beer-Lambert Law. The relevant law here is the Beer-Lambert Law relied upon by the machine.
For completion sake – Henry’s Law is one of the laws formulated by William Henry in 1803. It states that:
“At a constant temperature, the amount of a given gas that dissolves in a given type and volume of liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in equilibrium with that liquid.”
Beer-Lambert Theory is used by the machine to calculate the amount of alcohol molecules in a given breath test sample:
When a DUI breath test is administered – the breath sample passes between an infrared source (light source) on one end of the breath sample chamber and an infrared detector at the other end of the sample chamber
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“when the breath sample passes through the sample chamber, molecules present in the delivered breath sample absorb some the infrared light thereby reducing the original infrared intensity from the infrared source. The reduction in the source infrared intensity is detected and ultimately translated/processed into a breath alcohol printout.”
When an airbag deploys – the microscopic particles breathed into the lungs – are dislodged from the lung passages and introduced into the breath sample chamber during breath sample delivery into the intoxilizer machine. Because the extra “airbag” particles increase the total number of particles in the samples’ total microscopic sample particles – there is an elevated breath test result. The machine cannot tell the difference between the type of particles in the sample and the test is therefore INACCURATE.
Colorado DUI Investigations – Did Your Airbag Deploy Before A Colorado DUI Breath Test For Alcohol?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author – A Denver Colorado DUI – DWAI – Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-227-2277.
H. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom experience – specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range. Call him if you have any questions about …Colorado DUI Investigations – Did Your Airbag Deploy Before A Colorado DUI Breath Test For Alcohol?