Facing DUI? How to Combat Breathalyzers and Field Sobriety Tests
As any skilled DUI attorney knows, the most important decision they must make in a case is choosing what defense to present. Because, once a defense is presented, it tends to be very difficult to present a different one if the jury is unimpressed by the first. Once the DUI attorneys first argument is made, […]
As any skilled DUI attorney knows, the most important decision they must make in a case is choosing what defense to present. Because, once a defense is presented, it tends to be very difficult to present a different one if the jury is unimpressed by the first.
Once the DUI attorneys first argument is made, the following arguments must remain consistent and support the main argument. If a San Diego DUI Attorney fails to do this, they can come across as being sneaky or unorganized.
It is never a wise choice to argue that your defendant was hardly over the legal limit, as this tries to make room for a gray area when one does not exist. You are either guilty or not guilty, and the jury will determine which one you are. You cannot be “a little bit” guilty. If this is your approach, it would be a better idea to negotiate a bargain with the prosecutor rather than taking your case to trial.
In a similar vein, do not try to argue that the defendant did not realize they were over the legal limit, as it is irrelevant. As a helpful side note, it is not a good idea to refer to the breathalyzer device as either an “instrument” or a “machine” as both of these terms are associated with accuracy in the mind of the jurors.
It is much wiser to argue that the breath testing device does not give completely accurate results, as breathalyzer devices do not directly measure blood alcohol, but rather give an estimate of BAC based on the concentration of alcohol in a persons breath. The fact is, this will vary greatly between people, as one the breath of one individual can contain much more alcohol than the breath of another with the exact same BAC.
When battling a breathalyzer test in court, it is usually wise to use more than boring and scientific terms like “margin of error.” A much more effective technique with the jury can be to give them the results in a possible range. For example, when an individual drinks X number of alcoholic beverages, their blood alcohol level can register anywhere between Y and Z. This will be much more easily understood and more effective in court. Another important tip is that it is usually unwise attack the arresting officer as a liar unless you have proof. Many jurors will be skeptical of such a claim.
Another good point to note, is rather than attacking the police officer’s integrity, it is a better idea to discuss the correct breathalyzer procedures and show to the jury how the police officer didn’t follow them. As an example, regulations provide that the officer should observe the driver for 15 minutes prior to administering the breathalyzer test, because if the driver has consumed certain foods or burped, the test can give an incorrect reading and actually show higher results than are true.
It is critical to drive home the point that breathalyzer equipment and field sobriety tests frequently show a false positive, and are definitely not perfect. Convincingly arguing the fallibility of sobriety tests and breath testing devices can be a useful tool to instill reasonable doubt in the mind of the jury.
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