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How legitimate are breathalyzer tests?

There can be many parts to a DUI prosecution. First, prosecutors may have to show that the initial stop that led to the arrest was legal. Second, they will likely have to prove that evidence collected by police officers, as well as witness accounts, is enough to demonstrate that the accused individual is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Although this is a high burden of proof to meet, many individuals who are accused of drunk driving may find themselves facing evidence that seems nearly impossible to overcome. However, even the strongest evidence can have weaknesses that can be successfully attacked to protect a defendant's legal rights.

One area where this strategy can come into play is breathalyzer tests. To those who are not experts in the field, these tests can seem scientific in nature. After all, a machine captures one's breath and analyzes it for alcohol content. If this test were accurate from a scientific standpoint, then their results would be trustworthy and fair. However, studies have shown that these tests can be error-prone.

In fact, one study found that breathalyzer tests can have a margin of error of 50 percent compared to blood tests used to analyze alcohol content. How significant is this? Very significant. It means that a driver who is subjected to a breathalyzer test that indicates he or she is over the legal limit may in fact be within the legal limit.

With that being said, the courts are ready to accept breathalyzer test results as evidence of a driver's intoxication. However, there may still be errors during the administration of these tests that could taint the results. An experienced attorney will know how to spot these issues and exploit them to a defendant's advantage. Hopefully this will lead to the suppression of evidence and, perhaps, a dismissal or an acquittal.

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Law Office of James L. Riotto | 30 West Broad Street, Suite 306 | Rochester, NY 14614 | Phone: 585-371-5633 | Map & Directions
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