Challenging the Accuracy of Police Tests in Your Orange County DUI Case
A winning defense of an Orange County DUI case must overcome the impression that the police tests are accurate. Testimony from a police officer that the defendant failed a field sobriety test coupled with a breathalyzer machine report identifying the percentage of alcohol in the defendant’s blood is often presented as evidence to the judge and/or jury. An experienced Orange County DUI attorney can assist you in analyzing and evaluating the results of these tests, and formulating a proper defense to challenge the accuracy of these tests results.
Challenging the Accuracy of a Field Sobriety Test
While standardized field sobriety tests are utilized to prove that a person is impaired, they are not based on any objective criteria and are less reliable than chemical tests as an accurate indicator of intoxication or driving impairment. Field sobriety tests are inherently flawed due to the subjective nature of the tests on an individual whose baseline performance is unknown. Lack of scientific validation is one way a knowledgeable Orange County DUI lawyer can challenge these tests in court.
Only three tests have been scientifically studied to see if poor performance on them correlates with alcohol impairment. These three tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test. Still, these tests have not been shown to be 100 percent accurate. These tests can be affected by such things as the roadside environment where they are administered, the general health of the person being tested, and the skill and training of the police officer. Even if these tests are considered valid, they should be administered in a carefully standardized fashion as prescribed by the National Highway Traffic safety Administration (NHTSA).
Challenging the Accuracy of a Breath Test
Although many people trust machines and tend to believe that anything measured in a seemingly scientific way must be right, there are ways for your Orange County DUI defense lawyer to attack the results of a breathalyzer test. The result of a breath test is admissible in court only if it was properly administered according to specific standards and guidelines. Your Orange County DUI lawyer will be able to advise you if the breath test was administered in accordance with the proper guidelines.
For example, a breath test for blood alcohol level (BAC) is admissible only if:
- The office administering the test was properly qualified;
- The proper procedure was used in conducting the test;
- The machine used for testing was accurate; and
- The records show the machine used for testing was properly calibrated, maintained and repaired.
Calibration is critical to the accuracy of the machine. If the machine is not carefully maintained to proper calibration then the results will not be accurate. The administration of the test is also critical. The test must be administered by a qualified operator, and it must be done in accordance with proper procedures. Finally, the use of a breathalyzer is based on certain assumptions about the concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood based on the concentration in the breath. However, these assumptions are based on averages and what may be true for one individual may not be true for others.
Get Help With Your Orange County DUI Case
While it may appear that the prosecutor’s evidence is scientific and difficult to challenge, having an experienced Orange County DUI attorney representing you can make all the difference. A skilled DUI attorney will investigate all possibilities for challenging the accuracy of DUI tests. For a free consultation, please contact Coffey and Coffey at (800) 706-7888 today.