Airbag accident DUI false positive
Airbag accident DUI false positive: If there has been a DUI with an accident where the airbags have deployed, and the driver of the vehicle was later breath tested, and arrested for DUI, there can be an airbag false positive for DUI. Our Orange County DUI Attorneys have handled many DUI cases over two decades, including cases involving an accident. If police respond to an accident whether the airbags were deployed or not, and suspect for any reason that a driver has consumed alcohol, he or she will be arrested for DUI.
The circumstances of a car accident make the timing very important. Before beginning DUI field sobriety tests (FSTs), police usually note the odor of alcohol emitting from an individual’s breath, watery or glassy eyes, slurred speech, and an unsteady gait.
Considering the anxiety and adrenaline produced during almost any type of car accident, the physical and mental condition of any driver involved may look like the same symptoms involved in a DUI. Airbag accident DUI false positive results only confirm those symptoms.
Airbag accident DUI false positive – The Tyndall Effect
Individuals may also be so shaken up and misunderstand the importance of their Implied Consent Rights. In addition, there is the Tyndall Effect.
The Tyndall Effect happens when the light is scattered by particles. How can that possibly pertain to DUI breath testing? Breath test machines use infrared lasers to assess how much alcohol is in a sample of breath. Once a breath sample is given, a breath test machine determines the amount of alcohol in the breath by assessing how the light was obscured by the alcohol particles.
Airbags are packed with fine powder for preservation purposes. When they are deployed during an accident, the powder can easily get into your lungs. When a breath test is taken after an accident, the powder used in airbags can obscure the infrared light in the breath test machine and produce inaccurate readings. Airbag accident DUI false positive results are very often mistaken for alcohol. Our Orange County DUI Attorney can look at the vehicle model and make, and the test results, and if it’s the Tyndall Effect or any other breath testing inaccuracy, we seize all opportunities for a DUI Defense and always strive to get our clients the best result no matter what the evidence or circumstance.
Any person who’s experienced an accident where the airbags have deployed will tell you that they get an awful taste in their mouths and sometimes it is difficult to breathe. When an airbag inflates, a puff of “smoke” can be seen coming from the steering column or side airbags. This “smoke” is because of cornstarch or talcum powder that was commonly used to line the inside of the airbag to aid in deployment. Although newer airbag fabrics are sufficiently “slippery” that additional powder lubricants aren’t necessary, most side airbags are still lubricated with talcum powder. In any event, the driver typically inhales microscopic particles of the powder lubricant at the impact that they cough up for hours.
Airbag accident DUI false positive in Orange County breath testing
As our Orange County DUI lawyer has written about on this site, the breath test machine used for Orange County DUIs, the Alcosensor V, uses infrared lasers to measure how the infrared light is obscured by the presence of alcohol particles in your breath. If you take a breath test after an airbag has deployed in an accident, the Tyndall effect, also known as Tyndall scattering, can cause a false positive, or add to existing low levels of alcohol to show a higher reading.
The Tyndall effect happens when a light is scattered by particles. When you blow into the Alco-sensor Breath Testing Machine, you will also blow some of the microscopic particles of lubricant powder into the sample chamber at testing. The powder acts like little mirrors deflecting and diffusing the infrared laser beam inside the breath machine (the Tyndall Effect). The diffraction and diffusion of the infrared light causes a falsely high result in the breath test. In other words, if a person has been exposed to an airbag deflation before breath testing, then the accuracy of the breath test results is highly questionable.
The Tyndall effect is more noticeable on earlier model cars. In 2002, many auto manufacturers changed to suppliers that do not use powder particles. Newer polymers and silicones are used instead of talcum or other powder in airbags.