Breathalyzers in Baltimore DUIs
There are two types of breathalyzer tests that most people come into contact with during a Baltimore DUI stop. One is the roadside version called a PBT, or Preliminary Breath Test, which is a little machine most officers or troopers get when they are in the academy or as cadets. The calibration of this device is unreliable and therefore the results are inadmissible in court.
The other type of breath test is the breathalyzer at the station or the barracks, which is a formal breath test offered by a chemist. The machine, often an intoxilyzer, is itself self-testing and self-authenticating. It confirms that it is operating and testing properly, and that a result was successfully obtained.
Breath Testing Procedures
The reliability of each of these tests rests on the principle that all breathalyzer tests in Baltimore DUI cases must be done in accordance with specific procedures. Before someone takes the intoxilyzer test, for example, they must be observed for 20 minutes and they are instructed to remove all foreign objects from their mouth. An officer is supposed to observe the individual this entire 20 minutes to make sure the proper procedures are followed.
During this time the individual will be read and given a written copy of their rights with regard to the test. This includes their right to refuse the test, and the associated penalties for refusing. When the observation period is up, the breath test operator will draw blank air into the machine and test it at which point the machine should come up with .00. The operator will then run a calibration check with a test solution. If everything checks out properly, the driver is then instructed to blow into the instrument’s mouthpiece. The instrument will analyze their breath and print out their calculated blood alcohol content. Blank air will once again be drawn into the machine, resulting in a .00, so that they can be tested once again. The two readings should be within .02 of each other, and they should be consecutive.
An individual is always given the benefit of the lowest number that comes in, and everything must be uniformly assessed so that the operation is always done consistently across the board.
Challenging Erroneous Breathalyzer Results
It is possible to challenge breathalyzer results, or get the evidence suppressed. However, it is up to the judge to find good cause or good reason to do so, which could come from the chemist not operating the machine as it is supposed to be operated or from the officer not complying with the observation period or other standards, leading to potentially incorrect test results.
The attorney will request that a chemist appear and testify as to the operation of the actual intoximeter unit. The lawyer will also have them bring the unit’s records so that, if it has had multiple issues over any window of time, it can be suggested that it is not reliable.
With that said, however, every judge relies on these breathalyzer machines. Therefore if they come back with a successful accuracy check, then at that point it has been calibrated and the result is going to be accurate, in the opinion of the judge.
Common Misconceptions About Breathalyzers in DUI Cases
People generally question whether they should refuse a breathalyzer or not, whether they may refuse it, and whether the courts will take first-time offenses very seriously. People wonder if they are just going to get Probation Before Judgment. Do they need a lawyer? Everyone presumes that just because it is their first offense, they should just get a PBJ. However, that is not always the case. Judges want to see that you took this seriously. They want to see a lawyer involved. They want to see any substantive body of work that you have done to better yourself from that alleged date of incident and until the time of trial.
How an Aggressive Attorney can Help
Cases are not easy. They are not straightforward. There is no standard case. Things must be proven and elements of the crime must be met. However, to prove their case the state has to rely on an officer who is just as human as you are and who has a job to do. If they can do it, they may be able to prove their case. If they cannot do it, they will not prove their case.
Do not simply rely on the assumption that with a first offense, you should get off with no consequences. A good number of judges will do just that, but not without the right circumstances. Hence stories become almost fact, less the integral parts on a lawyer can get you through. Do not rely on your friends. Do not go on Google and punch in whatever you want to read about Maryland DUIs, because you will find out the worst case before the best case. Every case should be scrutinized and taken apart. Every detail, every comment, every word written by the officer to substantiate every bit of the elements that would need to be proven in court should be looked at carefully. You should not be hiring someone who will just plea you out. Hire someone who is going to break the case up and pull it apart.