If you failed a Breathalyzer test and face drunk driving charges, you might feel that there is nothing you can do to build your defense. Fortunately, this is far from true. Breathalyzers are less dependable measurement tools than many people realize, and many other factors may impact the validity of the results they produce.
No matter how strong you may think the evidence is against you, it is always wise to begin building a strong defense as quickly as you can. The longer you wait to begin this process, the fewer legal options you have, and the more likely it becomes that your charges result in convictions. Protecting your rights is an important responsibility, and you probably have more defensive options than you realize.
Reliability in question
Movies and television shows often portray Breathalyzers as extremely reliable, which is important because they measure suspects’ blood alcohol content to hundredths of a percent. In reality, numerous defendants have argued against the reliability of these devices and won their cases. Breathalyzers may not produce completely accurate results, even when they receive proper maintenance and calibration. Be sure to look at all sides of your arrest to identify any reasons to doubt the validity of your results.
Calibration and maintenance
In order for Breathalyzers to produce acceptable results, they must undergo routine maintenance and calibration. If a device does not receive regular calibration, all of its results are questionable.
You may think of this like a scale at an airport. If the scale is not calibrated and reads a pound or two over the limit, the scale may indicate that the luggage is too heavy, even if it is not. In an airport, you may have to pay additional fees to get your luggage to its final destination, but in an interaction with police, a poorly calibrated Breathalyzer may result in unfair criminal charges.
Officer conduct and participation
Apart from challenging the evidence against you, you can look for weaknesses in conduct and participation of your arresting officer. If the officer violated your rights in some way during your interaction, you may have grounds to challenge the charges overall.
Similarly, you have the right to confront the individual accusing you of a crime, and can demand that the arresting officer testify in court. If the officer refuses or is unable to testify, then you may see the results tossed out.
However you decide to move forward, do not waste time. The more time you have to build your defense, the more opportunities you have to keep your rights secure in Virginia.