Breathalyzer Myths and Field Sobriety Tests by toriola1


									                                                  Presented by Daniel Toriola

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                                          Breathalyzer Myths and Field Sobriety Tests
                                                               By Christian Miller

   The breathalyzer test is one of the most difficult aspects of a DUI or Driving Under the Influence
charge to overcome. If you’ve blown into the machine during a suspected DUI traffic stop and your
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is over the legal limit, you’ll definitely be charged with DUI.

 There are several myths surrounding the breathalyzer and the potential to beat it despite being
intoxicated. A lot of folks depend on beating the breathalyzer only to find out in court that what they
believed were ways to do so, in reality did not affect the breathalyzers results. Sitting in court is not the
time you want to find that out.

 One of the more common breathalyzer myths is that if you put a penny in your mouth the test won’t be
accurate. The fact of the matter is that a police officer will make sure you haven’t had anything in your
mouth for twenty minutes prior to your being tested. A penny, gum, or just about anything in your
mouth will invalidate the test, but the first thing a well trained police officer will do is to make certain
that there is nothing in your mouth.

 Another common myth is that you can defeat the test by not blowing into the tube while pretending
that you are, causing the machine to register your breath as free of alcohol. The breathalyzer analyzes
the amount of breath being taken in and alerts the officer if there’s not enough air flow. If someone
taking the test keeps pretending to blow but doesn’t, the officer will eventually designate that the test
was refused.

 Yet another fallacy is that the officer can cause the machine to register a higher BAC than is actually
present in the person suspected of driving under the influence. The days of “dialing up a drunk” on the
old machines are over. The modern digital breathalyzers are made to be tamper-proof.

 A breathalyzer test is much more difficult to overcome in court than are field sobriety tests. Your
attorney can attack the breathalyzer if he can show that the test solution wasn’t used on schedule, they
can point out an officer’s lack of required training, or that the test wasn’t given soon enough after the
arrest. The chances of success here are slim but a good attorney can make all the difference.

Field sobriety tests are much easier to defeat in court than the breathalyzer. The National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration studied field sobriety tests and developed a series of three, being the

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Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, One Leg Stand and Walk and Turn tests, that if properly administered will
allow an officer with a statistically high degree of success to show that a person’s BAC is at least .10.

 DUI attorneys can attack these tests in several ways. These include the officer not being adequately
trained, the tests were not given in the prescribed manner, and that the officer misinterpreted the
results. The possibility of human error on the officer’s part is much greater than with the use of the

The Massachusetts DUI Website has information on what to do if you are
Arrested for a DUI, How Police Spot DUI Drivers and promotes the use of Personal Breathalyzers to
help prevent a DUI Arrest.

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                                                 Your Rights at DUI Checkpoints
                                                            By Christian Miller

Many people on the road today do not understand their rights pertaining to DUI checkpoints. These
rights become increasingly important if you’ve had a few drinks, and aren’t sure if it will register on a
breathalyzer. To avoid incriminating yourself, there are some things you need to know about sobriety
checkpoints before you find yourself being stopped at a temporary roadblock set up to catch drunk

 DUI or Sobriety checkpoints are temporary checkpoints used by law enforcement officers to catch
drunk drivers. In 1990, The United States Supreme Court ruled that sobriety checkpoints are not a
violation of citizens’ right to privacy, however, that doesn’t mean they are effective. Chief Justice
Stevens stated that “the net effect of sobriety checkpoints on traffic is infinitesimal and possibly
negative.” In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has concluded that roving patrols
by law enforcement officers result in three times more arrests than checkpoints. Although controversial,
DUI or sobriety checkpoints do work to show the public that driving under the influence is bad.

So what do you do when you come upon a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Sobriety checkpoint?

 The first thing to do is show the officer your identification when asked. If they begin asking you
questions, politely decline to answer as is your right. If you answer some questions, but not others, you
will only raise suspicion and encourage the law enforcement officer to investigate or question you
further. If the officer asks to search you car, respond by telling them that you do not consent to any
searches. If you are ordered out of your car by the officer it is important that you lock the doors behind

 In the event that the officer suspects you of drinking or being under the influence of alcohol, you will be
asked to perform a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test. You DO have the right to decline the test and
request to speak with an attorney. This will probably result in your arrest, and the officer will put you in
contact with an attorney. When you get to station, request again to speak with an attorney before
submitting to any other tests or questions; the attorney you speak to will become a witness to your
behavior, noting the clarity of your speech and instructing you on the legal issues involved in your
current situation.

 Your next move while at the station should be to submit to a BAC or Blood Alcohol Test. You are
required by law to submit to a chemical test at the police station. If you refuse the test, your license
could be revoked or suspended. It is usually better to submit to a test and then have the results
suppressed than to refuse, as the penalty can be just as harsh as a DUI. Breathalyzer tests are more
unreliable than blood tests, so if given the option, choose the breathalyzer. Knowing your rights is the
most important thing you can do to protect your civil liberties during a DUI arrest.

The Seattle DUI Defense Attorneys website is here to
provide you with the latest information on finding out your rights once you have been arrested for a DUI
in Seattle and the greater Washington Area.

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