By: William C. “Bubba” Head, DUI Lawyer
While not all drivers take a breath test after their arrest for driving under the influence, a skilled Atlanta DUI attorney will advise his or her clients that making challenges to breathalyzer accuracy is a primary defense used to win DUI alcohol per se cases.
When discussing breathalyzers, no generalized answer can be given about police breathalyzer accuracy, and the reliability question will vary depending on the type of device used and the state where you were arrested. In a few states, like California and Tennessee, portable breath test devices may be used to supply a quantitative result. The quantitative result means that the “number” obtained from a preliminary breath test might be usable against you at trial. In other states, like Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, the portable breath test numerical result is ordinarily not admissible at a trial.
Breathalyzer reliability can depend on many factors. Each state enacts laws to codify protocols relating to assuring breathalyzer accuracy, and these protocols always include periodic inspection of the breath test device. However, some state programs only check devices annually or semi-annually, while others inspect devices and check calibration every 100 tests. Some states like Georgia require quarterly tests. This does not mean every 90 days. It means per calendar quarter.
The question of “How accurate is a breathalyzer” can only be answered once all information about the quality controls in place in your state is reviewed. States like Alabama, Washington, and Colorado have far-reaching regulations and protocols. States like Iowa have lax statutes and only periodic maintenance. DUI case law that has developed across the country, dealing with breathalyzer test accuracy, controls how strict your state breath testing program might be in terms of proving how accurate breathalyzer tests really are.
DUI law firms that have built a reputation for winning drunk driving cases in various states typically require all of their DUI attorneys to take advanced training on all breath testing devices used within that state. Most states approve only one machine to be utilized for breath testing, such as the Intoxilyzer 9000 in Georgia, the Intoximeter EC-IR II in North Carolina, the Datamaster DMT in South Carolina, and the Draeger device in Alabama.
Other states, such as California and Tennessee, have approved multiple types of devices, which means that a DUI lawyer in California or Tennessee must be well versed on multiple breath testing machine manufacturers.
State statutes and regulations controlling approved breathalyzer devices and their mandatory maintenance and operation are the starting point for any drunk driving lawyer to investigate.
Whenever a new client who has submitted to breath testing comes into our office, we obtain (through the criminal discovery process) all records relating to the maintenance of that device’s breathalyzer accuracy tests. We also request any records of repairs made by the factory (CMI of Owensboro, KY) when the machine previously failed to work properly while in the field.
Most criminal defense attorney DUI lawyers are generally in agreement that by not checking each instrument’s breathalyzer reliability, a DUI attorney commits malpractice.
By simply investigating the background of the machine and the calibration check records, the attorney may find a way to have a DUI per se case dismissed simply based upon noncompliance with Georgia laws. This either wins the drunk driving charge or facilitates a DUI reduced to reckless driving or other lesser offense.
If your drunk driving case involves a police breathalyzer, be certain to inquire of the criminal attorneys you are considering whether or not their DUI law firm routinely investigates breathalyzer accuracy in each DUI case.
A negative answer means that this law firm is not looking under every rock and behind every tree for answers to how to win your DUI case.
When doing jury selection, a drunk driving attorney will ask questions such as, “Are breathalyzers accurate?” If a potential juror indicates that he or she believes that police breathalyzer accuracy is usually pretty good, we like to ask further questions as to the source of the information they have received.
Many times we will find that they have been arrested for DUI or that one of their family members (or some other acquaintance or relation) has worked in the police department, and has vouched for the accuracy of breath testing.
Since hundreds of thousands of drunk driving cases each year are based upon breathalyzer results, hiring an experienced DUI lawyer to fight the breath test results is imperative.
DUI court cases involving breath testing will take longer than drunk driving cases for which a person has refused the implied consent test. Therefore, the criminal lawyer you hire may look at your breathalyzer scores and determine that your drunken driving case will take longer to try than a DUI case involving a refusal to be tested.
Both a DUI drugs case as well as per se alcohol drunk driving cases mandate that your attorney have advanced training in order to have a realistic chance to win your DUI case.
Putting up witnesses to challenge the breath test results may cost more, but may be necessary to win.
The best Atlanta DUI attorneys never quit looking for that one faulty piece of evidence that can deflate the State’s case against you. Count on Atlanta criminal attorney Bubba Head to find that crucial error.
Call 42-year veteran Atlanta DUI attorney Bubba Head today and get honest answers to all your questions. Tell us everything that happened and everything you remember about your DUI arrest. The sooner you call us, the better chance we have to win your DUI case and get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Remember, you only have 30 DAYS to file a license suspension appeal or apply for an ignition interlock device, or your driver’s license will be suspended for up to one year! Talk to Bubba Head, Larry Kohn, or Cory Yager now. We are available 24 hours a day, weekends, and all major holidays. (404) 567-5515