There are thousands of DUI arrests made in Florida each year. By state law, anyone driving in Florida has given implied consent to be tested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol upon reasonable suspicion. If you are found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more on a breathalyzer test, you are presumed to be driving under the influence. However, that doesn’t necessarily stop you from raising a defense to the DUI charges.
Breathalyzer tests are often shown to be unreliable. A New York Times investigation found that judges in Massachusetts and New Jersey threw out 30,000 breath tests in the 12 months between November 2018 and November 2019. Across the country, thousands of other breathalyzer tests have also been invalidated in recent years. Among the grounds for challenging test results in Florida are these:
- Improperly calibrated breathalyzer — All breathalyzer machines must be calibrated periodically. They also must be properly maintained and tested by someone who is certified to do so. Proof of calibration and maintenance of the specific machine used must be presented to the court by the prosecution. Improper calibration or maintenance can mean an invalid test result.
- Uncertified breathalyzer operator — All breathalyzer operators must take and pass a 16-hour training course given by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In addition, a renewal course and continuing education is required of each operator in order for them remain certified. Proof of certification and continuing education must be presented to the court.
- Inadequate observation period — Florida law requires a 20-minute observation period before the breathalyzer operator can administer the test, in order to ensure that any alcohol in the mouth has dissipated and that nothing else in the body or mouth will affect the results of the test.
- Insufficient breath samples — Florida law requires two breath samples to be taken within 15 minutes of each other. The second test is meant to confirm the results of the first test. Without it, the test result is inadmissible.
Obtaining the evidence and records necessary to raise these challenges effectively is a complex process that requires professional assistance. Your first move after being charged should be to contact an experienced Florida DUI attorney who can analyze your case and develop a careful strategy for obtaining an optimal result. Bear in mind that a failed defense can result in jail time, heavy fines and loss of driver’s license.
At Largey Law, we hold the state to its burden of proving every element of a DUI case beyond a reasonable doubt. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced DUI defense lawyer, contact us online. We have offices in Tavares, Clermont and Inverness.