Whether your child is attending the University of Nebraska or any of the smaller private colleges in the area, you are undoubtedly proud of the fine young man or woman maturing before your very eyes. You may marvel at the conversations you can have with your child about his or her college experiences, and perhaps you get misty thinking about the little baby you once held in your arms.

With age does not always come wisdom, however, and your child may also be experiencing more than lectures and labs while off at college. You may remember your own university days and the boundaries you pushed with your newfound freedom. However, if police recently arrested your child for DUI, you may not want to leave him or her to learn this lesson alone.

How accurate are BAC tests?

In Nebraska and most other states, the law considers a driver with a .08 percent blood alcohol content to be legally intoxicated. Typically, a driver’s BAC is determined when he or she blows into a breath test during a traffic stop where police suspect the driver is impaired. This traffic stop may also include field sobriety tests and other factors that police use to determine if they have probable cause to make an arrest.

When arresting officers took your child to the police station, they likely administered a second BAC test. This one may have been a blood test, a urine test or another breath test. Each of these tests may provide an accurate BAC level, but they also each have their flaws, for example:

  • Factors other than alcohol can affect the results of a breath test. Traffic fumes in the air, something your child ate or even hand sanitizer can skew the results of a breath test.
  • Blood tests are more accurate, but there are many opportunities for the samples to become contaminated. If the chain of custody is unsterile or the lab technicians add preservatives to the sample, the results may be unreliable.
  • Authorities rarely use urine tests because they are the least accurate of the three. Often, enough time has passed between an arrest and the administration of the test to render the results questionable.

It is not uncommon for any of these three tests to reveal the presence of alcohol when the subject was not drinking or to show no alcohol in the system of someone who has imbibed. Because of these unreliable results, and the ever-present human factor in handling and analyzing samples, your child has every right to question the validity of a positive BAC result. Since a DUI conviction may lead to many serious and long-lasting consequences, securing a firm defense strategy is a wise move.