Criminal Defense News

San Diego Breath Test Contamination

Shaking the Foundation of a DUI Prosecution- Part 2

The amount of DUI arrests in San Diego exceeded 10,000 in 2013.  Because these arrests are routine for law enforcement, they have employed a system to ensure that the arrest leads to a DUI conviction.  However, over time, this routine has proven to be ridden with flaws.  The procedures of your arrest, breathalyzer test, blood test, field sobriety tests and all other elements that occur on the night of your arrest must not violate your constitutional rights.  These violations, however, are not uncommon.

 Technological Hiccups

Our society relies heavily on the advancement of technology to provide us with more accurate results in testing our blood alcohol content (BAC) upon arrest for a DUI.  However, it is important to note that the increased reliance on technology for DUIs ignores the fact that if the machines are used improperly, your DUI arrest may be based completely on a technological hiccup.  This hiccup in technology may directly lead to an improper conviction, unless sufficiently contested by your attorney.

It is important to note the time that your BAC was tested.   About how long after or before your arrest was your BAC taken?  Also, how many tests were taken?  If there is a large discrepancy between two BAC tests, it is likely that the test was improperly performed.  Experts, who specialize in the BAC technology, can point out errors that may have occurred when your test was administered.

Breath test contamination

After being intercepted by law enforcement there are two possible breath tests that may be administered. The first is a roadside preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) and the second is an evidentiary screening that will be completed after your arrest, usually back at the police station.  You may refuse the first test. However be aware that refusing a test may add additional enhancements onto your sentence (if convicted.) Potential contaminants of breath test may include environmental contaminants or even certain medical conditions.

Breath tests are less reliable than blood tests, largely because they cannot be stored and retested, like blood tests. The following list includes specific policies that must be followed by law enforcement when administering a breath test:

  • Regular testing and calibrating of machines
  • A 15 minutes period before testing begins of no eating, drinking, smoking or vomiting
  • Proper record keeping of each action taken by operator
  • Proper training of each operator
  • A operator obtaining two separate breath test results which differ by no more than 0.02 grams per 100 milliliters of blood alcohol

Attorney Stephen G. Cline has been a practicing San Diego criminal defense attorney for 20 years.  His reputation and experience will be the key to the aggressive defense of your San Diego DUI arrest.  Call today at (619) 235-5638 to review your specific case!

Stephen G. Cline

Stephen G. Cline

Stephen grew up in Sacramento and pursued a degree from California State University at Sacramento. After graduation he worked in a group home caring for violent, suicidal and/or abused children. Though that and other personal experiences, Stephen brings unparalleled service to potentiality catastrophic situations. Learn more about Stephen and connect with him today!
Stephen G. Cline