Breath Tests in DUI Cases: Understanding the Process
When a police officer suspects a driver of being under the influence, they often administer a breath test to measure the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). This test can be conducted using either a portable or stationary device. But before administering the test, the officer provides the driver with a DL – 26 form, also known as the “O’Connell warning,” which is an implied consent statement.
It is important to note that breath test devices have their share of issues, but they play a crucial role in determining DUI charges. If a driver’s BAC measures at 0.08 or higher, they will be charged with DUI. However, mistakes made by device operators and technical problems can sometimes lead to the dismissal of such charges.
Pennsylvania Breath Tests: How They Work and Their Significance
Let’s take a closer look at how breath tests work in Pennsylvania, where two types of tests are commonly used:
Portable or preliminary breath tests (PBT): These tests are conducted roadside by law enforcement officers. Devices such as the Intoxilyzer 500, AlcoCheck, and BACmaster are commonly used. While the results of a PBT are not admissible in court, they can provide probable cause for further testing. Drivers have the right to refuse this test.
Evidential or stationary breath tests (EBT): Stationary tests are conducted using larger machines at police stations. Refusing to take this test can result in severe penalties. Multiple breath samples are required to ensure reliability, and the results are printed out and can be used as evidence in court. Approved machines in Pennsylvania include Alco test, DataMaster, and Breathalyzer models.
Breath Test Machines: Unveiling the Truth Behind Errors
Despite their generally considered accuracy, breath test machines can encounter several problems that may result in false positive results. Some common issues are:
- Software glitches or bugs
- Environmental factors
- Electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radiofrequency interference (RFI)
- Overestimation of BAC due to assumed blood breath partition ratio
- Improper maintenance
- Inclusion of non-ethyl alcohol substances in test results
Mistakes Made by Breath Test Operators
The accuracy of breath test devices is heavily dependent on the expertise of the test operators. Errors or oversights during the process can result in the dismissal of DUI cases, as the blood alcohol content (BAC) cannot be considered as evidence. To familiarize yourself with potential mistakes made by officials, including police officers, during breath tests, consider the following:
- Breath test administered by a non-certified police officer
- Test conducted during the peak absorption period
- Significant variation in BAC samples
- Failure to collect breath samples within the required time frame
- Neglecting to conduct the mandatory observation period
- Inadequate calibration of the breath test machine
Breath Test Machines in DUI Cases
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, DUI cases rely on three machines to assess alcohol impairment through breath analysis: the Intoxilyzer 8000, the DataMaster, and the Intoxilyzer 5000. Understanding each machine is crucial for Beaver criminal attorneys handling Driving Under the Influence cases. Each brand and model operates uniquely, requiring an attorney’s scrutiny of law enforcement officers, state troopers, and machine operators regarding methods, qualifications, and potential defenses.
Skilled Beaver DUI attorneys focus on two critical aspects when defending clients against breath test-based DUI charges. Firstly, they meticulously examine the machine’s calibration, scrutinizing the completion date, the responsible person, and their training in calibration. Ensuring the accuracy of machine calibration is paramount.
Secondly, the machine operator plays a crucial role. Assessing their licensing status and ongoing training on advancements in machine usage is essential. Additionally, verifying if they correctly conducted the test on the individual is of utmost importance. Operator error can significantly impact the defense strategy, potentially leading to case dismissal.
Fortunately, numerous breath test machines used in Pennsylvania have been found defective. A past ruling by the State Supreme Court renders them ineffective. Therefore, challenging Blood Alcohol Concentration readings from these machines and suppressing or dismissing them altogether in breath test-based cases is relatively feasible. However, blood tests are increasingly common as an alternative to breath tests.
Facing charges for Driving Under the Influence of alcohol? Need an experienced Beaver DUI attorney who knows breath test machines inside out? Look no further than the Logue Criminal Defense team. We are here to provide the expertise and knowledge you need to fight your charges.
At Logue Law Group, we proudly serve Beaver, West Virginia, and Ohio. Take advantage of our free initial consultation by reaching out today at (844) PITT-DUI or (412) 389-0805. You can also contact us online.
Don’t delay! DUI charges come with serious consequences, and unreliable machines and improperly trained operators can jeopardize your freedom. The longer you wait to enlist legal representation, the harder it becomes to dismiss or reduce your charges. With Sean Logue and his associates at Logue Law Group, you’ll have a dedicated team working to get your life back on track. Call now and take the first step towards reclaiming your future!
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