Getting arrested on drunk driving charges after failing a Breathalyzer test can seem like a hopeless situation. This is understandable, since the charges are serious. After all, your criminal record and future freedoms are threatened, and the test results might seem like bulletproof evidence against you.
While it is wise for you to take the charges seriously and use all the legal tools at your disposal to fight them, it is important to understand that Breathalyzers are not decisive in the courtroom. Challenging them is not always easy or successful, but if your charges rest on Breathalyzer evidence, you should examine all the ways that you have to challenge the results.
Challenging the results themselves
Contrary to popular belief, Breathalyzers have a small, but statistically significant, margin of error. This is the case even when an officer operates the device properly and it is regularly calibrated and maintained.
In some cases, defendants choose to challenge the results, counting on this margin of error to support their arguments. This defense is rarely successful, but it is important to know that it is possible.
Much more commonly, you may have grounds to challenge results based on the calibration or maintenance of the device, or lack therefore. If the device did not receive proper calibration prior to your testing, or if it did not receive proper maintenance regularly, then the results are less reliable.
Challenging the officer
It is certainly possible to challenge the conduct of the officer, if he or she violated your rights in some way or failed to operate the device correctly. If the officer did not properly administer the test, you could have strong grounds to toss out the charges altogether. Even if the results are solid, you may challenge other aspects of the interaction.
Officers have a responsibility to uphold the law while enforcing it, so if the officer did not follow proper procedures during your traffic stop and subsequent arrest, a judge may simply toss the case out of court. Careful scrutiny of the details of your interaction, including body cam or dash cam footage of the interaction, could reveal a violation of your rights.
However you choose to fight these charges, make sure that you present a robust case. A strong legal defense may be the only thing that stands between you and hefty fines, loss of driving privileges — or even jail time. Make sure that you protect your rights and future freedoms and help keep law enforcement honest.