DUI Court Case - Challenging Breath Test Results

Tue, May 19, 2009

Alcoholism, Legal Articles

By Pat L Johnson

Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher is illegal in every state. If you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, you will likely be asked or required to take a breath test to measure your blood alcohol content. The results of the breath test are then used as evidence against you and can help prosecutors secure a DUI conviction.

Breath test results can be powerful evidence in a DUI trial. For this reason, it is usually important for a DUI lawyer to challenge the results of the breath test.

The results of breath tests can be challenged in several ways. In some states, lawsuits demanding the release of the source code of breath test machines are pending. DUI lawyers have argued that without the source code of the machine, the DUI suspect is denied due process.

Other common breath test challenges include:

  • Questioning the calibration of the machine
  • Examining the expertise of the machine operator
  • The method of collecting and storing the breath sample

Another way breath test results may be challenged is to introduce evidence that the DUI suspect is not the average person with the average metabolism and that their blood alcohol concentration did not constitute intoxication or impaired driving.

If you are arrested for suspicion of DUI, in most states you may request an independent breath test or a blood test to determine your blood alcohol content. If the results of the independent tests are much different from the state’s evidence, it can give your DUI lawyer an open door to challenge the breath test evidence. If you absolutely have not been drinking and are accused of drunk driving, it may be helpful to request a blood test to prove your BAC was not over the legal limit.

In most states, you may refuse to take a breath test. However, in most cases, refusal results in an additional charge and the could result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Some jurisdictions now have “no refusal” DUI weekends, during which a warrant for a forced blood draw is obtained if a driver suspected of DUI refuses to take a breath test.

I believe in protecting people’s rights. This includes the rights of anyone accused of a crime, even DUI and DWI. The DUI laws in every state are complex and nuanced. Knowing your rights and the laws will help you make better decisions - decisions that could have a big impact on the rest of your life.

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