Florida Court Requires Proof of Breath Test Accuracy in DUI Cases
A September 2010 decision by a Florida Circuit Court judge has upheld a Monroe County Court ruling that limits the use of breath test results by prosecutors in drunk driving cases. The opinion, which will likely face further appeals and potentially wider application in the state, requires prosecutors to prove that the Intoxilyzer 8000 produces accurate evidence of the level of alcohol in a driver's system.
Such proof may be difficult for the state to provide in DUI cases, because the private company that makes the machine has persistently fought disclosure of the proprietary source code in its software. The trial court had ruled that Intoxilyzer results were suspect because an inspector with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who was later fired, deliberately falsified information and test results that discredited the device knowing that its methodology was not reviewable.
"The state has become so reliant on this thing they bought but they can't show how the magic box works," a local defense attorney told the Florida Keys Keynoter. "That turns the whole system on its head by giving the state a presumption of guilt." Similar cases have arisen in other Florida counties, and a statewide resolution to this issue is overdue.
An Aggressive DUI Lawyer Will Explore All Avenues to Protect a Client
People accused of driving under the influence need not passively accept the consequences of a DUI arrest. There are many factors that can lead to an inaccurate assessment of a driver's level of intoxication, including improper administration of the test and mishandling of blood-alcohol content (BAC) samples. The fundamental thing to remember in such cases is that the state has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the statutory threshold for drunk driving has been exceeded.
The potential criminal consequences of a conviction are serious: jail/incarceration, fines, mandatory treatment, community service and a criminal record. The collateral consequences can be just as harsh, from increased insurance rates to job loss because of reduced mobility. Such risks underscore the importance of taking steps to strongly assert and protect one's legal rights. By consulting as soon as possible with a criminal defense attorney, clients are able to clearly assess their legal options and explore strategies to reduce or defeat charges.