The results of a breath test or breathalyzer are the most important evidence in a Connecticut DUI case. Here’s why.
Unlike many other crimes in Connecticut, a prosecutor doesn’t need to show intent or the mindset of the defendant to prove DWI. Rather, Connecticut DUI is a statutory offense. This means simply by being over the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle, which is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, you are guilty of driving under the influence (DUI).
Therefore, if a prosecutor has the results of a breath test showing a BAC at or over 0.08%, an acquittal of all charges is unlikely. Of course, there are instances when the results of a breath test are incorrect or inadmissible in court. Here are four times a Connecticut defense lawyer can argue the results of a breath test are wrong.
Law enforcement is trained to administer a roadside breath test when there is probable cause of a Connecticut DUI. However, not every police officer adheres to this training. Instances, where an officer didn’t carefully observe a Connecticut DUI suspect or follow procedure, could invalidate the results of a breath test.
Why is the process for administering a breath test so important? A breathalyzer is meant to measure the level of alcohol in a driver’s blood. Yet, that isn’t exactly how the chemical test works. A breathalyzer measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath or the air and then uses the reading to calculate BAC. If a test wasn’t properly administered because the driver burped or alcohol in the mouth interfered with the reading, then the results were wrong.
One of the most important aspects of administering a breath test is taking multiple readings. It is the best practice that law enforcement tests your BAC twice, in close succession. The results of these two tests should be within 0.02% of one another.
If a Connecticut DUI defense lawyer questions the results of a breath test, then it is important for law enforcement to show the chain of custody and handling of the breathalyzer device. The device used for a breath test must be cleaned, calibrated, and tested regularly. Failure to perform this regular maintenance could invalidate the results.
Law enforcement should have documentation on the dates and responsible officers for calibrating a breathalyzer. If this evidence is unavailable or inaccurate, then it is possible the results of the breath test were also inaccurate.
As explained above, the results of a breath test are important for conviction of Connecticut DUI. However, these results are inadmissible in court if the results were mishandled or contaminated. There are several ways the results of a breathalyzer were contaminated, including exposure to other compounds, such as gasoline, oil-based paint, and cleaning fluids.
This exposure could occur because the compounds are on the hands or face of the driver, and an officer permits the driver to touch the breathalyzer device, thus skewing the results. Another argument made by DUI lawyer in Connecticut is exposure to radio frequency transmission. The results of a breath test can be inaccurate due to electromagnetic interference by radio transmissions, radar detectors, and other devices.
The presence of a medical condition might sound like an unlikely strategy for beating a Connecticut DUI, but in some cases, it is effective. There are certain medical conditions that increase the level of acetone in the mouth, throat, and breath. A breath test can’t distinguish between the presence of acetone and the alcohol in beer, wine, and spirits. The result is a false positive on a breath test.
Some of the medical conditions that increase acetone are common in the United States. For example, acid reflux is known to substantially increase acetone in serious cases and diabetes can also cause the condition.
If you believe the results of a breath test were skewed, inaccurate, or contaminated, you should speak with a Connecticut defense lawyer about your case. Not certain if you have an argument against Connecticut DUI charges? It is still important to speak with a lawyer at the Law Office of Alexander Schwartz. Our team can help you assess your case and the avenues for your defense in a free initial consultation. Call our Bridgeport, Connecticut office at (203) 255-9829.
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