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Potential Issues with Tests Utilized at DUI Stops

Most people's heart rates immediately go through the roof when they see those flashing blue lights behind them. If the officer has a suspicion that the person pulled over could be guilty of drinking and driving, he or she may administer a variety of tests at the traffic stop to see if someone might be driving under the influence.

Possible tests include field sobriety tests, a blood test, and a breath test. While the legal blood alcohol concentration limit is 0.08, all of these tests have their faults and highlighting these faults is essential to a DUI defense. What are some of the defense strategies motorists and their attorneys could use to overcome these tests? 

The Field Sobriety Test

There are a variety of tests the officer may administer at a DUI stop. Examples include being asked to walk on a straight line or balance on one foot. While people struggling with these tests could be over the legal limit, there are plenty of other reasons that the test might fail. For example, does the person struggle with their balance even when sober? Does the person have a physical disability that prevents them from successfully completing these tests? These are all valid options for questioning the field sobriety test and should be highlighted in any legal defense.

The Faults with the Breath Test

Most people are familiar with the Breathalyzer, the tool used to measure the alcohol concentration in someone's breath as an estimation of their blood alcohol concentration. There are certain issues that the defense can highlight. For example, was the equipment calibrated correctly? The machine measures the alcohol in someone's breath relative to an arbitrary value that is measured as 0.0. If the 0.0 the machine is measuring against is off, all measurements taken with the equipment will also be off. Furthermore, there are certain substances in people's breath that could potentially throw off the machine. These substances could also be used in a valid defense against a breath test.

The Errors with the Blood Test

The blood test is seen as the gold standard because this is the only test that takes a direct measurement of the blood concentration of alcohol; however, people should remember that no test is ever perfect. Most hospitals use alcohol as a way of sterilizing their equipment before use. If alcohol was used during the blood draw, this alcohol could get in the test and give an arbitrarily high value. This would lead to an incorrect test. In addition, the lab could remove the certain substances in the blood, such as plasma, that the lab might think are contaminants. If the plasma is removed, the alcohol concentration will rise inappropriately and lead to an incorrect test result.

Anyone who is facing DUI charges should hire an experienced attorney. The penalties for a conviction are stiff and everyone deserves the best possible defense.

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