Alcohol Partition Rates in Utah DUI Cases

DUI Defense Lawyer

Utah law enforcement and prosecutors and even some judges would have you believe that the Intoxilyzer 8000 – the breathalyzer machine used by Utah law enforcement to detect the blood alcohol content in a person suspected of DUI – is infallible.  When one looks at a little bit of the science behind the Intoxilyzer machine, however, it it evident that it cannot be accurate for every person tested.

Partition Ratio Between Blood and Breath Alcohol

Currently in Utah and throughout the United States it is assumed that for every 2100 alcohol parts found in a person’s breath, there is one alcohol part in the blood, that is, a ratio of 2100:1.  How did we get to this number?  Between 1930 and 1953 several scientists studied partition rates in individuals.  Some found the partition rate to be 1300:1, other found 2100:1, others found 2000:1 and a variety of other partition rates.  In 1953, a committee was appointed by the U.S. National Safety Council which compromised on a 2100:1 ratio.  That is why we have that ratio today.

Why is this important? Because breathalyzer machines used by Utah law enforcement use the 2100:1 ratio as the accepted ratio.  The problem is that not everyone has a 2100:1 ratio.  Some people have lower ratios and others have higher.  By using the 2100:1 ratio, the BAC levels are overestimated in 20% of the population.  That means that 1 out of every 5 people who are charged with a Utah DUI have inflated readings from the breathalyzer machine.

How Do We Fix The Problem?

In order to determine whether your breath test was inflated we have to determine what your true partition rate is. We can do that with the assistance of medical personnel who can draw your blood over the course of several hours after you were drinking. They can test your blood to determine your true partition rate.  If your partition rate falls below that of the assumed 2100:1 your readings will have been inflated and you may have an excellent defense to defeating your DUI.

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Posted in DUI Science

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