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Blood Alcohol Tests Archives

5 things to remember about the big breath-alcohol testing story

Last week, we discussed the New York Times' major investigation into the reliability of breathalyzer tests around the country. This was a big story because the Times found that breathalyzers from various manufacturers used around the country suffer from the same technical difficulties. Thousands of DUI cases are already being reopened in at least two states due to these problems.

New York Times: DUI breath tests often inaccurate, exaggerated

In 2010, when a new person was brought in to run Washington, D.C.'s breath testing program, his first priority was to test the city's Intoxilyzer machines for accuracy. He was astounded to discover that every machine was exaggerating the test results, entering numbers that were 20 to 40 percent higher than the actual result. This discovery likely implied that innocent drivers had been falsely accused of drunk driving for years.

Do you have a right to talk to a lawyer before a DUI blood test?

In some circumstances, criminal suspects may have a right to counsel before they have been arrested. This is generally when the suspect is about to make a decision that will could impair their defense in a critical stage of the case. Is deciding whether to submit to a DUI blood test such a situation? What if the police have a warrant?

Could a medical condition affect your DUI charge?

Yes. There are a number of medical conditions that could affect your breathalyzer reading. If you suspect that your breath test came out unusually high, you should discuss the situation with your criminal defense attorney, as there may be an innocent explanation for at least some of your blood alcohol content.

Are sobriety checkpoints effective? Worth the cost?

In Tennessee and most of the United States, law enforcement engages in sobriety checkpoints to catch drunk drivers. These roadblocks are generally set up to test a random sample of all drivers who encounter them. In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, if properly set-up, a DUI checkpoint does not violate a driver's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. But do they work?

Another state considers lowering DUI BAC limit to 0.05 percent

The state of California is considering two, tough new DUI bills. One would lower the per se blood alcohol content (BAC) for a DUI to 0.05 percent, following the lead of Utah and the recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board. The other bill would make a fifth DUI within 10 years a felony offense.

Can sobriety be subjective?

Between movies, friends and firsthand experiences, there is an image in your head when you think about field sobriety tests. For many, it is probably the image of someone trying to walk heel-to-toe down a straight line.

Judge finds driver's license revocation law unconstitutional

Up until recently, Tennessee drivers with unpaid court costs often faced having their driver's licenses revoked. By taking away the ability to drive, individuals faced substantial economic disadvantages, affecting their ability to work and engage in ordinary lawful activities and many were unable to get their licenses back. If that wasn't bad enough, drivers often had no notice that the potential penalty existed for not paying court costs. However, a Tennessee federal court has determined that it is unconstitutional to revoke licenses simply on a person's inability to pay court costs or fines.

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