Challenging Breathalyzer Accuracy in Florida DUI Cases
Breathalyzer tests in Florida are not always accurate. Although breathalyzers are relied on heavily by law enforcement officers and prosecutors to prove a DUI case, the machines, and the people who use them, are fallible. Breathalyzers it must be maintained in a certain climate, they must undergo regular updates, as well as cleaning procedures, to provide accurate results. The failure of a Sheriff’s Department or Police Department to maintain their breathalyzer machine properly will render the results unreliable and inadmissible in court. Notwithstanding, an inaccurate breathalyzer result will allow the police officer or sheriff’s deputy to keep you in custody until you are able to post a bond. By that point, most of the damage is already done.
Contesting breathalyzer results is intimidating for inexperienced lawyers. Conversely, experienced, and battle-hardened Florida DUI attorneys understand the importance of vigorously contesting breathalyzer results. They know that breathalyzer results are often inaccurate and unreliable. Challenging breathalyzer results exposes the failures of the machine itself as well as the people who run them.
Prosecutors rely on breathalyzer results for their most damning evidence against a person because most people believe that the machine itself cannot be wrong. Notwithstanding that belief, we know that machines fail all of the time. Whether the machine failure is due to a human error, or because of a technological defect, the best DUI defense in Florida convinces a jury that the breathalyzer results are unreliable evidence.
The most common brand of a breathalyzer in use in Florida today is a machine called the Intoxilyzer 8000. The Intoxilyzer 8000 is an extraordinarily complex piece of equipment designed to measure the amount of ethyl alcohol in a person’s breath when blowing into the machine. The machine measures 210 liters of human breath. The machine reads the sample provided by the test taker and issues an immediate result.
Savvy Florida DUI defense lawyers know that the complexities of the Intoxilyzer 8000 are susceptible to inaccuracies if the machine is not properly maintained, improperly used, used by an untrained police officer, or is not properly calibrated. Additionally, the environmental conditions inside of the detention area and the medical conditions of the test taker contribute to false readings.
Several factors influence inaccurate results. Variables such as the test takers body temperature, the failure of the machine to distinguish between ethyl alcohol and chemical compounds that are similar to ethyl alcohol, interferences with electrical currents while the machine is in operation, the test takers consumption of particular foods, and the test takers medical conditions or medications can render the test unreliable. The computer program that runs the Intoxilyzer 8000 cannot account for all of these variables that lead to false-positive results.
The Florida Administrative Code governs the use, maintenance, and testing procedure of a breathalyzer. Florida Rule 11D-8.007 requires a police department or sheriff’s department to grant breathalyzer access to people with valid permits to use the machine. Additionally, the machine must be kept in a secure place that denies access to non-authorized individuals and is preserved in a clean and dry state. Additionally, the machine must be calibrated according to the Florida Administrative Code, and the Intoxilyzer 8000 must undergo regularly scheduled maintenance.
Every law enforcement agency that uses a breathalyzer in Florida is responsible for keeping training records, permits, testing records, and maintenance records as well. The law enforcement agencies who use breathalyzers cannot control software operation.
Breathalyzers are connected to a database that is constantly updating computer code. The computer code only works if the programmers created the code correctly. Regular updates, software patches, and even virus protection could interfere with the normal operation of the breathalyzer, which could lead to inaccurate and unreliable results. Additionally, the breathalyzer calibrates itself. All of this is done through computer code; any deficiency in the computer code will impair the machine’s ability to self-calibrate.
Breathalyzer companies do not want to let their secrets to becoming public information. As a result, they are unwilling to produce the computer code that operates the machines to defense counsel. Frequently they are uncooperative with defense attorneys in Florida. Despite their efforts to thwart justice, experienced and successful Florida DUI defense attorneys understand how to subpoena the records into court so that the defense can mount a vigorous attack on the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer 8000.
Like all other states in America, Florida has an implied consent law. Section 316.1932 the Florida Statutes indicates that any driver refuses to take a breathalyzer test as directed by a police officer or other law enforcement officer will be subject to a one-year driver’s license suspension. The effect of Florida’s implied consent law essentially compels every person Who drives on a public street in Florida to take a breathalyzer test if a police officer has grounds to ask you to take a breathalyzer test. The person under arrest for DUI at that point has little choice but to face an automatic driver’s license suspension or take an unreliable test.
Declining to submit to a breathalyzer test can be used against the person at trial as evidence that the person knew here she was under the influence of alcohol. However, there must be corroborating evidence admitted at trial to support the inference that the person was under the influence of alcohol. The prosecution cannot rely on the refusal alone for conviction.
There are some instances when a person is arrested on suspicion for DUI in Florida should not take a breathalyzer test. The individual must make that determination in the circumstances as they unfold. An accomplished Florida DUI lawyer understands how to use the evidence as it is presented and create a successful defense. If you decline to take a breathalyzer test or if you take a breathalyzer test, a Florida DUI attorney with vast trial experience will understand how to use that evidence to your advantage no matter the result of the test.
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Call Musca Law at 888-484-5057 right now to speak with a dedicated Florida DUI attorney who could assemble a defense strategy that minimizes your exposure to the harsh consequences of a DUI conviction in Florida.