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The Breathalyzer said I was drunk. Does that mean I'm guilty?

Perhaps you drove over the posted speed limit, had a tail light out or turned without using your signal. Whatever the case may be, you caught the attention of a police officer as you drove. Once you stopped, what began as a seemingly simple traffic stop turned into an inquiry regarding whether you drove drunk.

As part of the process, the officer asked you to submit to a breath test. Knowing that you could lose your license for refusing, you complied because you believed that it would clear up any questions. The problem was that the results came back indicating that your blood alcohol concentration was at or above .08, which is Kentucky's legal limit. Now, you may face DUI charges and may consider pleading guilty due to the Breathalyzer results.

Don't be so hasty

Before you just enter a guilty plea to the DUI charge based on the results of the Breathalyzer, you may need to know that the results may not mean anything. Breathalyzer test results are notoriously inaccurate. You may be able to challenge the results in court. Below are the most common issues with these tests:

  • In order to use the machine properly, the officer must receive training. If the officer didn't have the required training, the court may rule any testimony regarding your test results inadmissible in your case.
  • In order for the machine to work properly, it requires periodic calibration. Without it, accurate results may be impossible.
  • In order to use the Breathalyzer, the officer needed either reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop or probable cause to believe you were impaired. Reasonable suspicion is a lower threshold, and the officer only needs to believe you were speeding or violating some other traffic law. Probable cause, however, requires more evidence such as the smell of alcohol, slurred speech and other signs of intoxication. 
  • The court may already consider Breathalyzer tests unreliable.
  • The arresting officer may not appear in court. Denying you the right to confront a witness against you would violate your rights outlined in the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Any of these challenges to the breath test could result in a dismissal of the charges.

Don't assume you have to go it alone

Gathering and providing the appropriate evidence as you set out to challenge the results of your breath test can be complex and frustrating. Fortunately, you don't have to take on this challenge alone. Teaming up with an experienced criminal defense attorney could increase your chances of a favorable outcome to the situation.

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