The high court of California ruled this week that people charged with DUI can challenge evidence from breathalyzer tests. Because many DUI cases are built on the evidence from these often unreliable machines, this is great news, and presents important new opportunities in court, and giving DUI defendants a fair shake.
When building a DUI defense, a defense attorney looks at all of the aspects of your arrest. Often the prosecution’s entire case is built on the results of a breath test. While field sobriety tests and your driving behavior can also come into play, the breath test result can be a “nail in the coffin” for a DUI case. But now, that evidence and the supposed infallibility of this magic number can be challenged.
Challenging the results of a breath test, if done effectively, may allow a defendant to get a plea deal that wasn’t formerly possible or may even result in getting the charges dropped.
Breathalyzers are small machines used by police to determine your blood alcohol level. In California the legal blood alcohol limit is .08%. If your breath tests results are greater than this, there is near certainty that you will be charged with DUI.
Unfortunately, these breathalyzers are known to often be inaccurate. A slight error in the computer, or in the underlying assumptions in the testing can throw all of the results off. In addition, as this report from the LA Times points out, things like gender, body temperature, and medical conditions can also skew the results.
In California, DUI charges are to be taken very seriously. If you are facing such charges or have ever been in front of a judge for a DUI you know what I mean. This type of criminal charge may be common but it is far from simple.
When arrested for DUI you will lose your license and you only have 10 days to contest this suspension. In addition, if you are found guilty, you will face jail time, fines, and possibly court probation. The penalties for a DUI 2nd offense are even greater.
If you have reason to believe that the breath test results were incorrect in your case or even if you know you were intoxicated and aren’t sure where to turn, I may be able to help. I will evaluate your case with you and together we can formulate the best defense strategy for you.