Last Updated on October 18, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team
Written By: Michelle White is currently the Content Marketing Strategist for Arizona DUI Team.
If a client was out drinking but was later pulled over by an officer, they should remember to stay calm and know their rights. They are in no obligation to answer the police’s questions, especially if asked about how many drinks have been downed. Instead, they should politely request an attorney.
When the police cannot obtain answers, they will likely conduct field sobriety tests. These are procedures conducted on the spot to test balance, cognitive abilities, coordination, and other signs of intoxication.
Pass the Initial Road Tests
The tests will involve making the client do tasks such as balancing on one leg, walking in a straight line, eye movement checks, etc. The results will give the officer an idea of how well the driver can respond, follow directions, and other signs that reveal if someone is drunk or not. The client should have no problem with these if they did not have too many drinks.
Ensure that the police have a lawful reason for questioning the suspect. The fourth amendment protects any citizen against questionable search and seizure. The officer needs to justify why they pulled a suspect over and give reasons why they are found suspicious of being drunk. Random stops and racial profiling are not considered valid reasons. If they cannot present a lawful reason, the defense team can make a successful argument against them.
Keep BAC Levels Low
If they have a lawful reason and the suspect could not perform the balance tests properly, the police officer may request scientific evidence to further confirm sobriety levels. The test is done using a breathalyzer, a device that measures alcohol content from someone’s breath when they exhale. They may also request blood or urine samples to verify levels of substance content in the drunk person’s body.
Most states have definitive laws regarding operating heavy machinery or driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicating substances. Even if the client is not actually impaired by a substance, a DUI is charged if they are found with a blood alcohol content or BAC of 0.8%.
Reaching a 0.8% BAC level will make anyone guilty of intoxicated driving regardless of other shreds of evidence presented. This is formally called a “per se” DUI charge, so the next logical course of action is to challenge the offense.
Though scientific evidence is definitive for most DUI convictions, do know that they are not infallible. The client should get a private defense attorney to help them challenge these charges and ensure they win against them, especially if wrongly accused.
First, the breathalyzers are susceptible to error if they have not been calibrated properly or regularly. The defense team may double-check the records of the calibrations from the police department. If there seems to be something off with the calibrations, the team may use a faulty reading as a successful argument in court.
Additionally, breath tests are unreliable when it comes to measuring BAC levels. The measurement of alcohol is multiplied with a “partition ratio” to arrive at an estimated BAC. While this number is applied to everyone, it is actually different from person to person.
There is a need to consider respiratory rate and body temperature if someone wants a more accurate reading. On top of these factors, the alcohol content could be affected by acid reflux, burps, recent use of medications, mouthwash, and plenty others. These external forces could potentially affect the reading, so the officer must observe the suspect for 20 minutes before facilitating the test. If they did not follow this protocol, the defense team could argue the test results in court.
Blood tests and urine tests are also used to test BAC levels. While accurate, these results are not without human error and must rely mostly on timing and consistency.
Getting a blood sample can take time – the police officer needs to transport the suspect to a nearby lab, wait for a qualified medical professional to administer the test, and it may take weeks before getting the final test result.
The alcohol content in the blood constantly changes as the body continues to digest it. BAC levels could have been low when the suspect was driving but got high when they got arrested. A faulty blood reading could lead to a false accusation of impaired driving. When this happens, the team can use the argument usually known as the “blood-raising-alcohol” defense.
On the other hand, urine samples are less accurate than breath and blood tests. They are not used very often and can also be inaccurate. Be it blood or urine, these samples could yield higher (and false) BAC results if they are not stored correctly. There is also the possibility for the samples to be misplaced or mishandled.
About the Author
Michelle White is currently the Content Marketing Strategist for Arizona DUI Team. Aside from spreading awareness on DUI and vehicular-related offenses, she enjoys reading and hiking with her family and friends.