Issues with Breathalyzer Tests in Colonial Heights

Breathalyzer tests play a crucial role in many DUI cases throughout Virginia. However, despite the legal system’s reliance on these machines, there are many issues with breathalyzer tests in Colonial Heights that may unfairly convict an innocent individual.

Because of this, it could be important for anyone accused of drunk driving to speak with a knowledgeable attorney about their legal options. Depending on the circumstances of a case, they may be able to fight the charges leveled against them.

What are the Most Important Issues Around the Calibration of Breathalyzer Machines?

The calibration of the breathalyzer machine is broken down by the Handbook. Normally, these tests are calibrated once a year, unless there is some kind of a problem with the machine. If that happens, the machine should be taken out and repaired or replaced.

While everyone would like to believe that the breathalyzer machines are calibrated according to their schedule, that is not necessarily the case. A lot of times, the records will reflect that the machines are calibrated more than necessary. This is done so that the police officers and the commonwealth attorneys will be in a position where they are not going to have convictions overturned by malfunctioning equipment.

They want to make sure that they do everything on their end to do the proper calibrations. The only way a person can really prove for or against it is by filing a FOIA (“Freedom of Information Act”) request, which is essentially requesting the information about the calibration. If the documents show that the machine has been calibrated properly and routinely, there is no case to be made. However, if improper calibrating techniques are found, they may be able to make a case on this basis.

Why Are These Tests Still Replied Upon in Colonial Heights?

While breathalyzers are not 100% accurate, they are still based on scientific fact. Simply put, this is the best that the legal system can do right now, regarding DUI cases. Regarding public policy, it is still more important to use a type of science that is already available than to throw it out the window because it is not foolproof.

Challenging Erroneous Breathalyzer Results

There are a lot of different ways someone can challenger breathalyzer results in court. The best way to challenge is to file a Motion to Suppress. This would argue that the police officers did not conduct themselves in the proper way. If successful, this challenge would have the matter ultimately suppressed and then dismissed.

This can be done in a couple of different ways, but filing the first Motion to Suppress is based off of some kind of police action, such as an illegal stop or not having probable cause. If the defense can show that the authorities did not have probable cause to arrest someone for DUI, for example, then it does not matter what the breathalyzer said—the case could still be thrown out. If the defense can show that the authorities did not follow proper procedure or protocol when using the breathalyzer:

  • That they did not give the person two opportunities to blow into the machine
  • That they did not wait the 20-minute observation period
  • That during that 20-minute observation period, the person burped, vomited or something along those lines – then the results will ultimately be tainted.

If the defense can show that the person ingested alcohol after the stop, as opposed to before the stop, then the breathalyzer can also be thrown out. In reference to the actual machine itself, if the defense can show that the machine is inoperable, broken, or not been properly calibrated, all of that can be used to defend against a DUI and challenge the Intoxilyzer machine.

Seeking Legal Assistance Regarding Issues with Breathalyzer Tests in Colonial Heights

A conviction for a DUI can have a severe impact on a person’s life. Because of this, it is crucial for anyone accused to have legal counsel on their side during each step of the proceedings.

One component that a Colonial Heights attorney can focus on is any potential issues regarding breathalyzer tests. Because they are not a perfect science, there is room for human error that may change the outcome of a case. To learn more, call today.

Colonial Heights Breathalyzer Tests