For most crimes in the United States, defendants receive what is called the presumption of innocence. The courts and everyone else should proceed under the assumption that the defendant has not committed a crime until evidence changes that. Defendants receive better treatment and have less to worry about in terms of juror neutrality due to the presumption of innocence.
Unfortunately, some people do not receive that benefit when facing criminal charges. It is very common for people to simply assume that anyone facing alcohol-related driving charges is most likely guilty. People tend to view roadside sobriety tests and breath test as infallible, when, in fact, they are anything but.
Many different issues can cause breath test failures
Portable units used to test someone's breath for the presence of molecules similar in structure to alcohol are commonly called Breathalyzers. Chemical breath tests are commonly used during roadside stops to determine if a person is likely chemically impaired. However, these tests are far from perfect. In reality, they can become improperly calibrated or suffer from issues related to user error.
It is also possible for someone who does not have alcohol in one's bloodstream to test positive through a chemical breath test. Certain medical conditions or even legal prescription medications could leave someone's breath looking like the breath of someone intoxicated.
The breath test looks for any compound similar to alcohol, which could include naturally occurring byproducts in your breath due to ketoacidosis or other medical conditions. Unfortunately, the same medical conditions that could lead to your failing a roadside sobriety test could also lead to an inaccurate positive result on a chemical breath test.
You have the right to defend against an impaired driving charge
Many people facing criminal charges related to alcohol use behind the wheel feel like a guilty plea is their best option. While it is true that a plea will help you avoid the potential embarrassment of a court trial, it will not necessarily be in your best interest to end up with a criminal record. Future employers could decide not to hire you because of a past conviction. Worse, your current employer could fire you or refuse you future promotions over a conviction.
Then there are the criminal consequences to consider. If you plead guilty, you will likely face fines, potential jail time and even the suspension of your driver's license for some time. Losing your license can impact your social life and your job, as could any amount of time incarcerated.
Depending on the circumstances of your traffic stop and arrest, it may be possible to build a robust defense against pending alcohol-related criminal charges. You should explore all of your options in the hope of minimizing the long-term impact of the charges on your life.