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Breath Test Defense

Prior to your current experience you may have thought that the DUI process was fairly straightforward. You are now discovering that there are twists and turns and you may find yourself checking with your defense attorney to make sure you understand the next step. That is the way of any legal process. But it is a fair bet that there are four parts to this process that you distinctly remember. You remember being pulled over. You remember taking a test to determine your blood alcohol content. You remember failing that test. You remember being charged. In fact, if you are like many people, you keep replaying all three of those incidents over and over in your mind.

Many people who fail the Breathalyzer test think that the state has all the evidence it needs to prove that they are guilty of driving under the influence. This is far from the truth. With the help of a veteran lawyer, Breathalyzer test results can be challenged. The breath test measures the percentage of ethanol in your blood. The result will be a number that reflects what the test has determined is your BAC. Washington has a legal limit your BAC can be while driving and that is .08. At first glance that looks fairly scientific and objective and you would think that would erase all questions – if you are at or over .08 you are guilty and otherwise.

That is what many people assume even those that are in the process. The problem with this assumption is that the test is not necessarily objective or scientific because the test is not necessarily reliable. There are many reasons for this and the problems are even stronger for the portable breath test. That is why the portable test is voluntary and its results are not admissible in court.

At The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC, we offer a case analysis to discuss your DUI arrest. With our main office in Tacoma, our attorneys handle DUI cases throughout Pierce County (Tacoma) , Southern King County (Kent), Kitsap County (Port Orchard) and Thurston County (Olympia) and places near and in between.

Challenging the Breathalyzer Test

There are a number of issues with the Breathalyzer test that can be challenged:

Were there any protocol or regulation issues with the Breathalyzer administration?
No matter what you are suspected of or even charged with you still have rights. Police are under certain rules to make sure that your rights do not get violated. Some of those rules regard the protocol and procedures that an officer is required to follow before he can either administer a test or even request to have a test administered. Talk to your defense attorney, give as many details, there may have been a breach of protocol that you were unaware of but your lawyer will know about it. Also every person that gives the test is required to be certified to do so. Police are people just like anyone else. Have you ever forgotten to get something renewed? Sometimes they do too. Any evidence gathered when regulations were not followed can be suppressed.

Were you under continuous observation for 15 minutes before the test was administered?
If the officer left the room or allowed to you to go to the bathroom, that breaks the 15 minute observation period. Most breath test rooms are equipped with video cameras, which could be used as evidence if you were not under observation for the required 15 minutes. If you contact us soon enough, our lawyers can preserve that video.

Was the Breathalyzer machine properly tested?
Breath test machines are required to go through a quality assurance protocol once every year. Our lawyers will look at the records to make sure the machine was properly tested. Many machines have a bias to test high or low. If your machine had a bias to test high, and your test results were borderline, you may have actually been below the legal limit.

Was the underlying stop and arrest legal?
Our lawyers will carefully review every aspect of your stop and arrest to determine if the police officer had legal cause to stop and arrest you. If not, all evidence gathered after the stop may be suppressed.

Did you hold your breath or blow before breathing into the Breathalyzer?
If you have ever been to the doctor and they have listened to your lungs or heart you probably held your breath or blew first. It just seems to be something people do. It seems likely that most people probably do this before breathing into the breathalyzer. It has been proven that this can affect the test results.

Is it possible that that the Breathalyzer misread another substance as alcohol in your system?
Breath tests supposedly look for ethyl alcohol or ethanol which is the form of alcohol found in the blood after drinking alcoholic beverages. This seems to make scientific sense. The problem is that there are other substances that can be falsely read by the machine. Acetone is one of those substances. Some diets can also cause substances which will be falsely read as ethanol. These would be those diets favored by those with diabetes or have other reasons to have low carb. These diets cause a bodily process called ketosis and this process causes isopropyl alcohol in the blood which the test has been known to falsely read as ethanol.

The more problems our lawyers can find with your Breathalyzer test, the more likely the prosecutor will offer a favorable plea bargain to resolve your case — or dismiss the case entirely.

Tacoma Lawyers Handling Refusals of Breathalyzer Tests

To discuss your case with our Tacoma Breathalyzer test defense lawyers, call 253-363-8662 or send us an e-mail through this website. We will arm you with the information you need to make sound decisions about your case. Call or e-mail The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC, your expert case analysis awaits you.