It is important to know how breath tests work, what their flaws are and how these factors impact results. How an inaccuracy affects the results of a test is important in knowing how to challenge the test as evidence. Various factors affect the usefulness of these test results as evidence to include the officer’s use and maintenance of the devices.
When the machines are not properly maintained, results of any test on any person may be between slightly off and completely incorrect. Standard protocols in calibration are required as well that ensure the devices are working within set parameters. If these are not applied, the results cannot be used as evidence. Errors in readings may cause a dismissal of the case due to lack of evidence or the lack of being able to prove intoxication. Other evidence may still be used, but breathalyzer tests are often the main piece of evidence used for conviction and convincing a judge or jury of the guilt of drivers.
Penalties for Conviction
The reason beating a breath test is so important in most cases is often due to the penalties someone is usually subjected to once conviction occurs. Various cases end quickly after a breathalyzer or a blood test has confirmed to a judge or jury that the person driving was also drinking before or during the drive. For DUI convictions, penalties may range from a simple term of probation for first offenses to include community service up to and including jail or prison terms with hefty fines. For any special plea bargains with a first offense conviction, the person may feel lucky considering the various strict and costly penalties he or she could be subjected to for these crimes.
Avoiding conviction by disqualifying a breath test is important in many instances. The act of causing a breath test to be inadmissible is not always easy, but with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer, a strategy may be initiated to find the flaws in the case when dealing with these tests.
Breath Tests Flaws
Even though a portable breath test may be used in the field, these devices are highly unreliable with potential to show a completely inaccurate reading. However, they are often enough to bring a person in on an arrest for DUI violations. When another breath test is administered in the department building, these machines may also reveal incorrect results based on various factors. When the legal alcohol blood content level is .08 nationally, it is important these machines only show accurate results. Unfortunately, these devices have been tested to have over a 40 percent error margin that causes numerous differences in test results. This could be up to a .03 percent addition to the result causing a legal driver to become someone considered to be driving under the influence.
For those unaware of how implied consent works, these individuals may be permitting a preliminary or portable alcohol screening test to be completed in the field when pulled over even if they are not legally obligated to do so. Those that are allowing these tests may not be aware of their rights or when they can refuse to take a test. The tests in the building must be allowed or a refusal usually leads to driver’s license suspension. And though a refusal while in the field may lead to an arrest, a criminal defense lawyer may suggest taking the second breath test at the police department as the portable devices are riddled with errors and false readings.
Challenges to Breath Tests
Results of various chemical tests may have altered results based on how they were administered and who administered them. Many states require those giving these tests to be trained in proper administration, but not all have the same skill in ensuring tests are given the same each time. Instructions for how to take the test may also be inaccurate for some individuals and cause a false reading. Challenging these tests is vital in some cases to ensure innocence is maintained, especially for those that were not drinking before or during the drive.
Not all tests are created equal. Some have histories of errors; others have complications with calibration. It is essential to ensure a criminal defense lawyer is obtained early to assist with knowledge and also in taking the tests. Later challenges may be discussed and a strategy initiated to discredit these tests that often have inaccurate results. A criminal defense lawyer can help establish a legal defense that is premised on these notions.