Between FHP, county sheriffs’ departments and local police, there are tens of thousands of DUI arrests in the state of Florida every year. What many drivers don’t know until they’re arrested is that they already agreed to take a breathalyzer test when they got their license. When you obtained your Florida driver’s license you agreed to submit to a breath or urine test or both if requested by a law enforcement officer.
Why People Provide Breath Tests
In fact, if you’ve been arrested for a DUI in the state of Florida, a police officer should have read you the implied consent warning from a prepared text reminding you that your driver’s license will be suspended for a first refusal and for 18 months for a second refusal.
Most people find this part of the DUI process intimidating and submit to a breath test. When they produce results that indicate intoxication — .08 BAC in the state of Florida — the results are admissible in court, which makes the job of the defense lawyer much more difficult.
Issues with Breathalyzer Machines
A breath machine calculates your blood alcohol content (BAC) by measuring the concentration of alcohol molecules in your breath. If everything is working properly, then it can be a fairly accurate estimation, which is why it’s admissible in a court of law, but there are ways that a seasoned DUI defense lawyer can sometimes attack breath results. Here are a few strategies for getting breathalyzer BAC results suppressed.
- The Breath Operator’s Certification is Invalid – Breath operators must receive certification from the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. They must also be able to present proof of that certification in court. If they fail on either count, then the BAC results could be suppressed.
- The Machine Must Be Calibrated – Breathalyzer machines are sensitive instruments. They must be maintained and tested on a periodic basis by someone who is certified to maintain them. The prosecution must also be able to provide proof of this maintenance in a court of law.
- Observation Period – Law enforcement officers are supposed to observe you for a 20-minute period before having you blow into the breathalyzer machine. Depending on how long it’s been since your last drink, this can be beneficial or detrimental to your results. If they fail to document the observation period, then the results could be dismissed; If they skip it or cut the period short, then the results will be skewed.
Other DUI Defense Strategies
There are many strategies that a criminal defense lawyer can use to beat a DUI charge in Florida. DUI cases are very structured and if the officer fails to follow protocols for a DUI arrest, they stand a good chance of losing the case if you have the right attorney. For a DUI arrest to be viable, the officer must:
- Articulate the probable cause for the stop
- Detail the physical indicators of intoxication
- Ask the driver to perform voluntary roadside exercises
- Provide evidence of the driver’s performance of the exercises
- Read the implied consent warning from a prepared text
If any of these steps are performed in the wrong order, it could be grounds for dismissal of the evidence or even the entire case.