Experienced criminal defense attorneys are well aware of the many intricacies and mistakes made during the course of a DUI arrest. Among these, inaccurate blood alcohol content (BAC) readings are some of the most significant errors. Although chemical tests are crucial law enforcement tools and often one of the primary pieces of evidence used to convict an individual of driving under the influence, they are not infallible. In fact, erroneous readings are more common than you may think.
A recent story from Iowa has shifted a national spotlight on the types of chemical test errors that occur. In this particular incident, an Iowa City man registered a .467% BAC on a portable field breathalyzer device. The legal limit is.08%. When tested again, the breathalyzer only read "Hi," meaning that the BAC was too high to register.
Cases like this are not unusual, but they are concerning. In fact, a 24-year-old man in the same Iowa County registered a BAC of .627% in 2012. Although individuals are unique and alcohol tolerance does play a factor, high readings such as these are generally fatal for most.
Challenging the Evidence
At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, we are familiar with inaccurate DUI chemical tests, including both breathalyzer and blood tests. Whenever someone's alcohol level is higher than expected – or even potentially lethal – several possibilities must be considered. One is that that the device is simply defective. Another is that the device may have been registering mouth alcohol, which can also be a sign that a machine was not properly maintained or calibrated, or is otherwise not working as it should.
In the case of the Iowa City man, being cognizant at .467% BAC is nearly impossible. In many respects, the man should have been unconscious if his blood alcohol level was that high. There is a likely possibility, then, that the machine did not function properly and was thrown off by alcohol in the defendant's mouth – not in his blood. This would cause a false reading and would create reasonable doubt that his BAC could have been much lower.
A thorough criminal defense lawyer should always take these types of possibilities into consideration rather than just accepting the machine readings as being true. Machines are supposed to protect from mouth alcohol being registered, but they don't always work as they should. In every case we handle, our Ventura DUI lawyers diligently investigate the results and maintenance records of chemical tests to determine if any potential errors were committed. If you can demonstrate that a chemical test device was not functioning properly, it should invalidate the test results and serve as grounds for a case dismissal.
If you or a loved one has recently been arrested for DUI in Ventura, Los Angeles, or any surrounding community in Southern California, place your trust in a firm that leaves no stone unturned when fighting for clients. Call (800) 462-7160 for a FREE consultation.