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What the District Attorney Does Not Want you to Know about a DUI

You Can Fight a DUI Allegation

The prosecutor and the police would have you believe that a DUI is a cut and dry crime. They want you to believe that the best thing is to rely on the system, give up the rights guaranteed to you by the Constitution and plead guilty. This is simply not true!

The fact is, there are many inappropriate arrests and mistakes are often made. Many people who are accused of DUI can successfully fight it, sometimes without even going to court.

When people come before the court without an attorney, they are at a huge disadvantage. The government’s attorney, the DA, knows the rules, how the system works and all the tricks to get a conviction. They know the judge and when you are facing them without representation, they hold all the cards. They are not on your side. They are not without bias. They are there to get a conviction and they will take advantage of your ignorance to make sure they get it. The worse your consequence is, the better they look. With a knowledgeable attorney on your side, you have someone fighting for you and leveling the playing field. With strong counsel at your side, the prosecutor will not be able to take advantage of you and you will get the fair day in court that the Constitution guarantees.

The Breathalyzer May Be Inaccurate

Like any machine, a breathalyzer is only as good as its maintenance, inspection and repair. Many law enforcement agencies simply do not keep up on these complex devices. Even if the department maintains the breathalyzer perfectly, it is still only as good as the person using it. Shoddy testing conditions and procedures lead to inaccurate results. Even when everything is done perfectly, and the machine is maintained and calibrated like it should be. There are still potential flaws.

Most police agencies in the area use the Draeger 7150 or a similar model. The Draeger assumes that for every 2100 molecules of alcohol in your blood, one alcohol molecule makes it into your lungs. There is no way to know for sure if these numbers actually apply to you. Some people have a number closer to 1100 to 1 and others as high as 3200 to 1. This means that the machine may be up to 50% inaccurate. Further, the most accurate machine cannot tell what your blood alcohol was at the time you were driving. If you were still absorbing alcohol when you were driving, your actual blood alcohol level may have been much lower than what the machine showed.

Interestingly, the DA may not know any of this. He or she is commonly fresh out of law school and, not surprisingly, toxicology and gas chromatography are not covered in their legal studies. At the Chastaine |Jones, we understand chromatography and toxicology. Our attorneys are familiar with all methods of testing used and have a team of expert consultants to call upon, if necessary.

The Prosecutor is Not Ready for Your Case

Most counties dole out DUI cases to the newest prosecutors. This means that the attorney assigned to your case is probably inexperienced, overworked and very short on time. In many instances, prosecutors must try to close hundreds of cases each month. They do not have time to read the police reports, watch the videos, listen to the tapes and check the calibration on the machines. They do not know the details of the cases they have been assigned and they often don’t understand how weak or strong the case actually is.

This can be a turned to your advantage. At the Chastaine | Jones, you will have an experienced attorney who is dedicated to your DUI defense. We limit the number of clients we accept so we have time to dive deep into your case. We will read the reports, listen to your side of the story, watch the videos and search out every possible defense – often before the prosecutor has even seen the case!

The Breathalyzer Can Give False Positives

Most breath alcohol detector machines shoot an infrared beam through a tiny chamber containing the air you have exhaled. The machine measures how much of the wavelength of the infrared light is absorbed and then decides how much alcohol is present. The machine is incredibly accurate when measuring alcohol alone. The problem is, it also detects volatile compounds that may be in your body.

Did you know that low carbohydrate keto-diets like Atkins, Optavia, and others cause your body to become acidic and burn fats? When you burn fats, your body generates ketone bodies, aldehydes, and different alcohols. These alcohols can then be detected by a breathalyzer and, particularly when there is some breath alcohol present, can lead to a falsely high reading.

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in North America and it can also lead to an acidic state where your body burns fatty acids. As your blood sugar rises, so does the risk of a false high alcohol reading.

Where you work may also play a role in a false high blood alcohol reading. Hairdressers are continually exposed to volatile chemicals, ethers, alcohols, and methyl compounds. The same thing is true for painters, plumbers, pipe fitters and some auto mechanics. All these chemicals linger in your body for hours or days after exposure and can trigger a false high breath alcohol reading.

Finally, mouth alcohol can drive up your breath alcohol measurement. The breathalyzer is so sensitive that just 0.0004 grams of alcohol in the test chamber will equal a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration. A tiny amount of bread trapped in dentures or Invisalign braces can hold enough alcohol to give an artificially high breath alcohol concentration.

The Police Need a Good Reason to Pull You Over

The police need probable cause that a crime has been committed to pull you over. Simply driving a car at 2:00 in the morning or leaving a bar is not a probable cause. The police need to see you violate some rule of the road before they can pull you over. Further, they need to be able to defend their reasoning in court.

It is not uncommon that the dashboard camera does not show what the police say they saw. Depending on the facts of your case, we can challenge what the police say using a suppression motion. At a hearing for a suppression motion, we argue that the police did not have probable cause to pull you over. We challenge the police reports using the dashboard camera, radar calibration and maintenance, training and other records. While these motions can be difficult to win, when we do win these hearings, all the evidence the police gathered in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights must be thrown out. This usually means that the field sobriety testing, the breathalyzer and everything else the police and prosecutor are using against you must be thrown out. If it cannot be used against you, your case will usually be dismissed.

Field Sobriety Testing is Only Accurate if Procedures are Followed Correctly

Not only do the police not go “by the book” when it comes to Field Sobriety Testing, most of the time they have not even read the book! There are very detailed requirements to complete the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) and most police officers never learn them well or have forgotten what they learned. These tests are somewhat accurate but only if they have been done properly. There are only three standardized tests recognized by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the police must do them exactly as they are taught. Police make more arrests if these tests are done improperly, and the courts often give these poorly done tests more credibility than they deserve. When the officer testifies, we cross examine them using their own training manual.

You Have a Right to a Jury Trial

You have a right to be judged by a jury of your peers at a trial where the government’s lawyer must prove each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. These cases take time and energy from the prosecutor; if everyone demanded a jury trial, the courts would be overwhelmed. Because the prosecutor must convince twelve people from the community that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, your odds of a successful verdict increase. We only need one person with a reasonable doubt to cause the prosecutor’s case to fail.

Further, the court cannot punish you for going to trial and, unless the details of your case are particularly bad, you will not receive a worse sentence even if you go to trial and lose than you will if you settle your case. Your right to a jury trial is extremely important and you should never give it up until you are sure that is the best strategy.

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