Challenging Breathalyzer Test Accuracy in a Florida DUI Criminal Trial
Breathalyzer tests (which measure a person’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) are often the crux of a Florida driving under the influence (DUI) case. Regardless of the accuracy of breathalyzer test results, prosecutors will seek to use BAC results to prove their case in court. As such, when facing a Florida DUI charge, accused individuals should seek legal representation from a highly experienced Florida DUI Defense Attorney who can challenge breathalyzer test results. When results are not accurate, Florida DUI charges may be unsupported, and therefore, should be dismissed. Without the assistance of a qualified attorney, a prosecutor may succeed in convicting a person of driving under the influence based on an inaccurate breathalyzer test result.
Florida Drunk Driving Laws
Under Florida law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including some prescription drugs). The legal limit in Florida (like many states) is 0.08. If a person’s BAC reading is 0.08 or higher, he or she may be charged with driving under the influence, which is a misdemeanor under Florida law. If convicted of a first DUI offense, the convicted individual faces potential jail time of up to six (6) months and a fine between $500 and $1,000. A second DUI offense, also a misdemeanor, may result in jail time of up to nine (9) months and a fine between $1,000 and $2,000.
Any DUI offense that alleges a BAC result is .15 or greater is considered an enhanced DUI, which has a penalty of up to 9 months in jail for a first conviction and up to twelve (12) months in jail for a second conviction. A first enhanced DUI conviction may result in a fine of up to $2,000, and a fine of up to $4,000 for a second enhanced DUI conviction.
A third DUI conviction within ten years of a second conviction becomes a third-degree felony under Florida law, which carries a penalty of up to five (5) years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. A third DUI conviction that happens more than ten years after a second DUI conviction will be considered a misdemeanor. However, a fourth DUI conviction – regardless of whether it happens within ten years after a prior DUI conviction – is considered a third-degree felony.
DUI convictions become even more severe when bodily injury and/or death is involved. A DUI incident that allegedly causes another person to sustain bodily injuries becomes a third-degree felony, regardless of whether the DUI is a first, second, or subsequent offense. If a DUI incident allegedly causes the death of another person, the DUI becomes DUI manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony under Florida law. The mandatory minimum jail sentence for the conviction of DUI manslaughter is four years, and the maximum is fifteen years. A fine may be imposed of up to $10,000.
The Breathalyzer Test – Measuring Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC) in Florida
The breathalyzer test has been the force behind hundreds of thousands of DUI charges in Florida over the past decade. Breathalyzer machines are not all created equal (as many models exist), and there is room for error that may result in false BAC readings. Breathalyzers are used not only by law enforcement officials, but personal use breathalyzers now exist that individuals can use themselves to measure their BAC. A BAC measurement is a critical component of most DUI cases. All machines have the potential to malfunction, and all humans can make mistakes. Adding these two components when administrating a breathalyzer test and reading the results is a recipe for false BAC readings.
When the level of alcohol in a driver’s system is borderline, a small change in the reading can make a significant difference. For example, if a person’s BAC reading after being pulled over by the police is 0.08, he or she technically could face a DUI charge under Florida law. However, with the result being borderline, and because any smaller reading would not be considered illegal under Florida law, it is imperative to ensure the accuracy of BAC results.
The Importance of Determining the Accuracy of BAC Test Results in Florida
Inaccurate BAC results may lead to wrongful allegations and wrongful convictions of innocent Florida drivers. A DUI conviction has permanent consequences for many Florida drivers. In addition to potential jail time and fines, convicted individuals may be required to complete a certain number of hours of community service, complete a drug and alcohol abuse program, install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle, and lose a Florida driver’s license for a long time. An inaccurate BAC result that leads to the wrongful conviction of someone is unconscionable. As such, it cannot be stressed enough that anyone facing a DUI conviction in Florida must ensure he or she is retaining the right attorney to fight inaccurate BAC results in court successfully.
How the Florida DUI Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Can Protect Your Rights
At Musca Law, our superior Florida DUI Defense Lawyers have taken on tough prosecutors throughout the state of Florida as well as at the federal level. Our lawyers handle not only DUI cases, but also serious felonies that can lead to substantial jail time. Musca Law has built a good relationship with the legal community throughout Florida, earning a reputation for providing excellent legal representation that has helped to protect the legal rights of so many accused clients throughout the state. Our attorneys can predict what a prosecutor may choose to do in each case. Our attorneys also have a good reputation with judges, who, like prosecutors, play a significant role in the outcome of a criminal matter.
When defending our clients facing Florida DUI charges, our attorneys diligently evaluate the prosecution’s case to determine where law enforcement officials may have gotten it wrong. If a BAC test result is questionable, the Florida DUI Defense Lawyers of Musca Law will take all steps to challenge the BAC test results (including consulting with expert witnesses). Inaccurate BAC test results can be a valid defense to Florida DUI charges. Additionally, if law enforcement officials made any mistakes from the time of arrest going forward (such as failing to read the arrested person his or her Miranda rights), grounds may exist to dismiss DUI charges. Moreover, if any evidence was illegally obtained and used to support criminal charges, grounds may exist to dismiss the charges.
Musca Law is ready for anything Florida prosecutors will throw our way. By choosing to work with us, clients facing Florida DUI charges can feel confident in knowing that they have placed their rights and interests in the hands of true legal professionals who stop at nothing to ensure they are protecting each client’s rights to the fullest extent possible. Contact us today at (888) 484-5057 to learn more about your legal rights and interests.