DUI Law: The Importance of Breathalyzer Calibrations

DUI Law: The Importance of Breathalyzer Calibrations

“Per se” DUI laws exist across the country. In these states, there is a presumption that the driver of a vehicle is operating under the influence if he or she exceeds a certain level of blood alcohol concentration. Currently, in the state of Utah, the Blood Alcohol Limit (BAC) is .08%. However, Governor Herbert has signed a bill that will lower the limit to .05% and will take effect Dec. 30, 2018. Yet, in order to perform a DUI arrest police must obtain proof that the driver’s BAC exceeds the limit. To do this they use a breathalyzer machine at the scene of the vehicle stop. Those who fail the breathalyzer test are likely to be taken to jail and booked on a DUI charge.

Clearly, breathalyzers play an important role in the administration of justice when it comes to dealing with a DUI suspect. As such, the accuracy of breathalyzers is often called into question when a person is arrested for DUI. To deal with this, the states and law enforcement departments have created regulations to determine when and how machines must be calibrated. This article will provide a brief introduction into the process involved with calibration and how results can be challenged.

How Breathalyzers are Used in Court

The results from a breathalyzer test carry strong weight as evidence that the driver was inebriated. However, police must support the results by showing that the device was in proper operating condition when it was used. An experienced attorney will often challenge the calibration data from the breathalyzer to prove that the client was wrongfully arrested. If the challenge is successful the results from the breathalyzer may be thrown out by the court.

General Calibration Requirements

Each state makes its own rules in regard to breathalyzer calibration, but there are some general consistencies. Each breathalyzer used in the field must be on a pre-approved list. Officers administering the devices must also be specially trained and certified to use it on suspects. Test must be operated in strict compliance with department guidelines. Furthermore, police must capture two separate breaths which both register within a certain percentage of one another. It is clear that the use of the breathalyzer device is subject to numerous standards in order for the results to be admissible.

Fighting Breathalyzer Results

The fact that breathalyzer use must comply with several legal requirements makes it a fruitful area for challenges by the defendant. In most cases, an experienced lawyer only has to show that the police did not comply with one of these areas in order to render the evidence inadmissible. These records will be examined carefully to determine if the machine issued misreadings that lead to the defendant's arrest.

If you have recently been arrested for a DUI make the call to Spencer and Collier, LLC right away. These cases require an aggressive defense from the outset. Challenging breathalyzer calibrations may give you a chance at beating the case even before it gets to trial.

Tags: Utah, DUI, breathalyzer