Orange County, CA- When facing a DUI charge in California or any other state, the alleged offender can and should challenge their charge or charges; it’s is their only way of avoiding collision. Often the most substantial evidence police and prosecution will present against someone are the results from a breathalyzer test. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed a state court decision which denied challenges of the scientific soundness of a breathalyzer test in California courts as part of DUI defense.
Last fall, the California Supreme Court ruled that defense attorneys cannot challenge the “fundamental reliability” of the breath testing model employed by the state of California and the U.S. as a whole, the San Diego Times reported. Defendants however are allowed to challenge the reliability of a particular type of breath test and whether a machine malfunctioned or was administered or calibrated properly.
The before the California high court centered on man who was arrested for driving under the influence in 2007. The man didn’t cause an accident, but he was driving in excess of 100 mph. After performing poorly on field sobriety tests, the man was given a breathalyzer in the field, with a hand-held device, and again at the police station with another breathalyzer device.
With first two tests conducted with the hand-held breath test, the man registered a .095 and .086 blood alcohol content. At the police station, a different two breathalyzer tests recorded his BAC at .08, right at the legal limit.
During his trial, the defendant’s attorney attempted to call expert witnesses to testify that breathalyzer tests were not scientifically accurate, but the trial judge refused. A jury ultimately convicted the man of “per se” DUI, but could not decide in the generic DUI conviction, the Times reported.
Dr. Michael P. Hlastala, was going to testify that breathalyzers are “inherently inaccurate” because the test worked on the theory that alcohol concentration on the breath is directly related to the alcohol concentration in the blood. Hlastala also said during pre-trial testimony that psychological factors can affect the results of a breathalyzer even when the device was working properly.
In 2011, the California Court of Appeal reversed the trial judge’s decision, but the City of San Diego appealed and eventually prevailed. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to take on the case without explanation thereby reaffirming the California Supreme Court decision and upholding the man’s DUI conviction.
For safety advocates like Mothers Against Driving, the decision is being hailed as a victory which they believe will make the streets in California safer and prevent drunk driving accidents. But for the thousands of people who are wrongfully charged and unjustly face DUI charges, the decision is a disappointment. A wise DUI attorney will be able to exploit other failings of the state’s evidence to help their clients avoid conviction.
If you are facing a DUI, it is essential to contact an Orange County DUI attorney as soon as you are able. This will give your attorney a head start on your case and increase your chances of preventing conviction or getting a reduced charge.