Challenging a Chemical Test in a DUI Case
Every driver should know the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is 0.08 percent. The number of drinks that it takes to reach this limit will vary widely based on individual characteristics and situations. For this reason, to prove that a driver was over the legal limit, law enforcement officers and prosecutors often rely on chemical testing, including breath and blood tests.
If an officer pulls you over and suspects that you were driving under the influence (DUI), they will likely request that you submit a breath sample, which you can do roadside during the traffic stop. The breathalyzer device will then display your BAC, and if you are over the legal limit, the officer has probable cause to arrest you. (Note that probable cause for arrest can be based on other factors besides a breath test, as well).
If you do not undergo a breath test during the traffic stop but are arrested based on other factors, police can request that you submit a blood sample at the police station to directly test your blood alcohol level. Either a breath or blood test can be used to convict you of DUI in a subsequent criminal case.
Defending Against Test Results
You may think that if a prosecutor has test results indicating your BAC was over 0.08 percent, a DUI conviction is inevitable. Realize, however, that this is not the case, as an experienced DUI defense lawyer can challenge the accuracy of the BAC results, whether it was through a breath test or blood test.
Before officers can perform breathalyzer tests, they receive proper training about how to use the equipment and conduct the tests. The equipment must also be regularly inspected and calibrated. The officer must follow the specific protocol set out by the state of South Carolina, which is intended to promote accuracy of results. All too often, an error is made during this process that can call the results into question—and a skilled defense lawyer can often identify such errors after officers take samples, the law enforcement division’s forensic lab analyzes them. Lab technicians can make many mistakes that may skew your results, including:
- Contaminating the sample
- Waiting too long to test the sample
- Not properly storing the sample
- Breaking the chain of custody
- Allowing unqualified people to handle the sample
- Not recording test results in a timely manner
- Fabricating test results
If any of the above or additional errors occurred, the BAC test results may not be credible evidence against you in your DUI case.
Contact a Columbia, South Carolina, DUI Defense Attorney to Discuss Your Case
Challenging chemical tests is only one way an experienced DUI defense lawyer can defend against your charges and assist in your case. If you have been arrested or charged with driving under the influence in or around Richland County (including Lexington and Fairfield Counties), please do not wait to contact the Law Offices of Lori S. Murray for help. Call at (803) 779-4472 or contact the office online today.