The following is taken from a transcript with a Norfolk DUI lawyer as they discuss what you should know regarding breathalyzers and their use in DUI cases. To learn more or discuss what impact a breathalyzer may have in your case, call and schedule a consultation with an attorney today.
The breathalyzer machine is maintained by the Department of Forensic Science and has been used for over a decade at this point. The Department of Forensic Science keeps records on the breathalyzer and courts have accepted the machine’s certificate of analysis as admissible evidence for awhile now.
Attorneys can check the background information in the machine to ensure that it is been properly maintained and that law enforcement officers are well trained on how to accurately use them.
Before someone takes a breathalyzer test, the law enforcement officer is supposed to monitor the person to make sure that they do not burp before taking the test. If someone does then this may cause a machine to inaccurately calculate the BAC or sometimes can even read as an error and advise the operator to try the test again. Also, if the machine isn’t maintained as it is required to be, then sometimes it can issue invalid readings.
Typically, the information that a machine hasn’t been maintained will be available and it is sometimes enough evidence to keep the results from being considered in court all together.
Typically, the Department of Forensic Science provides attorneys with histories on the machine about seven days before and after the particular test at issue, so that we can look at all of the tests that have been given in that time period.
They also provide the calibration that’s been done on the machine and any errors that may have come up with the machine. Typically, it is required for the machine to be calibrated every 90 days.
Every now and then, there are a few errors that do come up and if there are any questions regarding the accuracy of the machines then typically the results are completely thrown out, which often can result in the case being dismissed.
The government does know about the particular issues that can occur with the breathalyzer, such as false readings that happen when someone burps or the inaccuracy when the machines aren’t maintained properly. There are strict guidelines for how the machine is supposed to be used and how often it needs to be maintained.
As long as the machines are being used properly and law enforcement officers are monitoring the defendant beforehand as they’re required to do, then the accuracy of the machines is extremely high. It’s continued to be used because of this extremely high accuracy and because it’s really the best way to determine what someone’s BAC is.
An attorney obtains background information on the breathalyzer in advance in order to review it and make sure there have not been any mistakes or slip-ups in the process. Anything that wasn’t done according to the required protocol can be used to argue that the evidence needs to be correct.
Once the certificate of analysis has been deemed inadmissible then it is really hard for the Commonwealth to provide enough evidence to support the claim that someone was under the influence of alcohol.
Do not send us confidential information related to you or your company until you speak with one of our attorneys and get authorization to send that information to us.