Challenging DUI Evidence in Anne Arundel
A DUI is a very serious charge, and the prosecution will be coming with a great deal of evidence. One way to try and fight for your rights is by challenging DUI evidence in Anne Arundel County. A dedicated DUI lawyer can act as an advocate while fighting to challenge the state’s evidence. There are many types of evidence that can be challenged, though some are more effective than others. To find out which approaches may work best for your case, contact an experienced DUI attorney today.
Breath Tests in Anne Arundel County
There are two primary breath tests utilized in DUI cases. The preliminary breath test is the test offered during the traffic stop itself. Although it is not admissible at trial to prove guilt or impairment, it can be utilized by the officer to establish probable cause to arrest. However, once somebody is lawfully arrested and they are brought back to the station, they are given the Intoximeter or breathalyzer test utilized in court to prove impairment or being under the influence.
The preliminary breath test on the side of the road is fairly straightforward. However, the breathalyzer test back at the station is far more controlled. The test must be administered within two hours of the DUI arrest. Prior to taking the test, there must be a 20-minute observation waiting period where the police observe the individual driver to ensure they do not eat, drink, vomit or put anything foreign in their mouth that would skew the test results.
The machine itself must be calibrated and a diagnostic test run. Then the breathalyzer test is administered under a controlled environment. After being advised of certain rights and their ability to refuse the test, the person may elect to take it. They are typically given two breath samples usually a minute or two apart.
Once those samples are provided, there is a check performed by the machine, and a little strip with the results readout is given. There is usually a slight difference between the two readings and the individual suspected of DUI is given the benefit of the lower of the two numbers.
The machine tests for the concentration of alcohol on a person’s breath. For example, someone who blows a 0.09 has 0.09 grams of alcohol per 210 milliliters of breath in their system.
Requirements of the Testing Device
It must be done within a two-hour timeframe with a 20-minute observation period, and the person administering the test must be a certified technician who is not the arresting officer. Even if the arresting officer is qualified to do so, it must be administered by a separate officer, chemist, or toxicologist. The machine must be certified with its complete records intact and filed.
The defense does not challenge the roadside breath test because the roadside breath test is not admissible at trial. However, there are certain dimensions to the official test at the police station that can be challenged.
If the test was not conducted within the two-hour requisite timeframe, the observation period was not complied with, the certification records of the machine have not been maintained, or if the person administering the test is not a certified technician, a challenge can be made. There are other more specific types of challenges.
If somebody suffers from GERD which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known as acid reflux, and it is a diagnosed medical condition, that could have an effect and skew the results, making them higher than a person otherwise would be.
If the two samples that are taken have a fairly significant disparity, one can challenge the legitimacy of the result. They can be called into question if they are not within the certain parameters of appropriate variance. If someone blows a 0.10 then a 0.14, that is too large of a disparity to be deemed accurate, and the entire validity of the test can be compromised.
There are various attacks that can be leveled against a breath test machine.
First Steps to Challenging
A person should contact an attorney because only an attorney would know how to challenge a breath test. There are very specific arguments to be raised and evidence to be gathered, so the only real step a person should take is to let the attorney investigate what there is to undermine the breath test result.
The police can always request a blood draw. Typically, these are only done when either a breath test cannot be administered, the machine is broken, or if no technician is available to run the test. If someone is in an accident and taken to the hospital and cannot take a breath test, the police can request a blood draw.
If the person is suspected of DUI and is lawfully arrested, they can also request a blood draw. Also, if someone does a breath test and it comes back with no alcohol or very little alcohol yet the person shows obvious of impairment, the officer could suspect there could be narcotics involved. Only a blood draw would provide information about what is in the person’s system.
Blood tests generally take place at a hospital, typically because someone is hospitalized and they cannot take a breath test. It will be administered by a nurse or someone otherwise qualified to draw blood. If an unqualified person draws the blood, a DUI attorney may use that as grounds for challenging DUI evidence in Anne Arundel County.
Blood Test Accuracy
Blood tests are relatively accurate for alcohol screening, although it does not mean they cannot be challenged. There is a certain protocol that can be ignored and certain calculations that can vary to dispute the accuracy or the readout of the reports.
Drug Impairment Accuracy
For narcotic screening, blood tests are not at all accurate. All a blood test does, for the most part, is detect the presence of a substance. Opiates would still be in the bloodstream as the opiates have a half-life longer than 48 hours. That does not mean that they were impaired, all that means is that there is a presence.
To prove impairment, there is a drug recognition expert that administers a battery of tests to support the allegation that someone is impaired, but the blood test itself only indicates the presence of drugs, not impairment.
Fighting a Blood Test
If the person does not want a blood draw, they cannot be forced. Some people are afraid of needles. It could be a religious reason or just personal preference.
Oftentimes, nurses who administer these blood draws are doing it in a manner more for medical reasons than they are for criminal proceedings. For example, if a nurse touches the needle with alcohol to sterilize it, that alcohol itself could have gotten a small fragment of it in the blood draw. This is one of many ways a talented attorney could challenge DUI evidence in Anne Arundel County.
How Crash Investigations Turn to DUI Investigations
Typically speaking, when there is an accident, police are called if only to fill out an accident report. If there is a suspicion of alcohol use by either driver that gives suspicion of DUI, an officer can conduct an investigation to see whether there is any basis for a full investigation, detain or even arrest a person. Often the smell of alcohol or the presence of empty or open containers of alcohol are grounds for beginning investigation.
Criminal Vs. Civil DUI Case
If it is an accident case, generally, the civil case is a personal injury claim or liability for vehicle damage, and if someone has been found guilty of a moving violation, that can illuminate the liability portion of any civil dispute as to the accident itself.
There are not that many steps to take because if a person is insured, the insurance company provides them with counsel. They will handle the litigation, and the person just must comply with it. Through an insurance policy, a person is required to cooperate with any investigation if a claim is to be honored. However, a person must be very careful if this is going on while the criminal case is pending.
If asked in a civil case “Were you drinking and driving?” that would be incriminating and could be used in the criminal case. It is important to be very careful not to provide specific information during the insurance investigation. Once the criminal case is concluded, there is no harm in providing the insurance company a statement. It is recommended that people just hold off on making any statements until the criminal case has resolved.
Contact an Anne Arundel County DUI Lawyer Today
If you plan on challenging DUI evidence in Anne Arundel County, you need to have a skilled attorney on your side. An attorney will be able to guide you through the various defenses that can be used to have evidence thrown out, or otherwise discredited. You should not face a DUI charge alone, so call today for a consultation on your case.