BAC Test Defenses
Just about any DUI case is likely to include the results of a chemical test of your blood alcohol content (BAC). Most often the test is performed by having you blow into a tube connected to a machine called an Intoxilyzer. A critical part of the government’s case is showing that the breath test revealed a BAC of 0.08% or higher. They’ll spend a lot of time in court working to convince a jury that these machines are ironclad scientific devices that are never wrong, but that is simply not so. The machine can be faulty, or the person operating the machine can make mistakes. Read below, and you’ll see a long list of ways BAC tests can go wrong.
A faulty breath test should be enough to raise a reasonable doubt about the prosecution’s case if it doesn’t get the case thrown out entirely. At Meldon Law, our Florida DUI defense attorneys have years of experience leaving no stone unturned in defense of our clients accused of drunk driving. This includes a thorough understanding of BAC test science and procedures and mounting a vigorous challenge to BAC test results where applicable. If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence in the state of Florida, call Meldon Law to understand your options for avoiding the serious consequences of a DUI.
Rising Blood Alcohol Levels
Part of the prosecutor’s case involves proving that you were impaired by alcohol at the time of driving, but the administration of a chemical breath test at the police station is more likely to occur hours after you stopped drinking and after you were pulled over. Your BAC can actually be much higher at the time of testing than it was at the time you were driving. As alcohol leaves the stomach, it enters the small intestines where it is absorbed into the bloodstream, and this process can continue for quite some time. During this “absorptive phase,” which can continue after you were already stopped by the police, your BAC can continue to rise. The rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream is different for everyone, and the numbers the prosecution presents at trial don’t always add up.
Inaccurate Test Result
Prosecutors will go to great lengths to establish the reliability of their testing machines and the validity of the test results, but an expert witness for the defense can raise a reasonable doubt about just how accurate these machines are. Even without expert testimony, a seasoned DUI defense attorney can go over for the jury the many strict procedures that the police department insists must be followed to ensure an accurate breath sample, a working machine, and a reliable result. These procedures aren’t always followed to the letter, but if they aren’t, what good are they? And what good is the test result?
Insufficient Observation Period
One of these procedures that must be strictly complied with is the 20-minute observation period. Before administering the breath test, the technician should observe the defendant to make sure the person does not eat or drink anything or regurgitate, in which case alcohol from the stomach could be brought up into the person’s mouth. The presence of “mouth alcohol” can give a wildly inaccurate reading of the individual’s actual blood alcohol level.
Mouth alcohol is also a concern for people with recent dental work. If you were wearing dentures when you took a breath test or had dental work done recently such as fillings, mouth alcohol could be locked up in dental devices or your teeth.
Who Conducted the Test
Chemical blood alcohol testing machines must be operated by licensed technicians who possess a valid, unexpired license. A licensed technician is also required to follow strict procedures in operating the machine and giving the test; failure to follow these procedures can render the test results suspect. The technician who administered the test must also be present in court to testify. Merely submitting an affidavit signed by the technician is not sufficient.
Interference From Radio Waves
The Intoxilyzer breath test machine is sensitive to radio frequency interference (RFI). Guess what police stations are full of? Interference from police transmitters can disrupt the machine and cause it to give false readings.
By driving on Florida roads, you have given your implied consent to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine when police have probable cause to test your BAC. Refusing to take a test results in a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Even so, you cannot be forced to give a sample against your will. The police are required to explain the consequences of refusing to take a test, but they cannot make you take the test or tell you that you have to take it. A forced BAC test is an invalid BAC test.
Help Is Available for Florida DUI Defense
The above is only a fraction of the ways BAC tests can be challenged and the defenses you might have available in your DUI case. At Meldon Law, we have helped many people across the state of Florida fight DUI charges and come out the other side with favorable results. Every case is different, so start by calling Meldon Law for a free consultation regarding the specifics in your case. For help with DUI defense in Florida, call Meldon Law today at 800-373-8000.