In Atlanta—or anywhere in Georgia—if you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence or if you have been in a car accident in which alcohol use is suspected and someone has been seriously injured or died, you deemed by law to have given implied consent to a Breathalyzer (or other similar) test to determine your .blood alcohol content (BAC). If your BAC is over the legal limit (for most people, 0.08 percent), then you can be charged with the crime of driving under the influence.
A charge is not the same as a conviction. You are presumed innocent. In many cases, in fact, you can challenge the accuracy of the results of the Breathalyzer test. But, you need an experienced attorney to help you do it. Contact us today at (404) 545-5845 to learn more about how we can help.
How Can You Challenge a Breathalyzer?
The Breathalyzer is one of the most common tools used by police officers to determine a person’s BAC. But, it is not perfect. There are lots of potential ways that a Breathalyzer test can give inaccurate results. To challenge a Breathalyzer, you might be able to argue that:
- The Breathalyzer equipment was not in working order. Breathalyzers, like other pieces of sensitive scientific equipment, must undergo regular calibration in order to keep them in good working order so that they give accurate results. Even with adequate calibration, Breathalyzers can fail for any of the reasons any other equipment fails, from faulty sensors to bad wiring. An experienced attorney can sometimes show that the Breathalyzer used in a test did not work properly, thereby invalidating the results.
- The officer who administered the test did not have adequate training. The Breathalyzer, as a scientific device, needs proper use in order to function correctly. If the officer does not fully understand how the Breathalyzer works, including both how to administer the test and how to evaluate the results, the test results may not be valid.
- Your body chemistry caused the Breathalyzer to give a bad reading. The Breathalyzer analyzes your exhaled breath to determine the concentration of alcohol in your blood. But, consuming alcohol is not the only way your breath might contain trace amounts of alcohol. Your body can act as a “still” that ferments the sugars in certain food you consume, causing your breath to register alcohol even if you haven’t drunk a drop. So can certain medications.
- The officer had no reason to pull you over. The police can’t pull you over for just any old reason (although it often feels like the opposite). If you were pulled over for no good reason, or if the police had an illegal reason for pulling you over, such as racial profiling, then challenging the legality of your traffic stop could be a way to fight your DUI charges.
What Happens if the Officer Doesn’t Show up for Court?
Some people have had their DUI charges dismissed because the arresting officer failed to show up for court. This happens for a variety of reasons, such as when the officer knows his traffic stop wasn’t legal, or is tied up on other matters.
You should not, however, just assume that the officer won’t show up to court. It’s helpful when it happens, but you should always be prepared. The best way to prepare to fight a DUI charge (and, maybe, to scare a police officer off from showing up to court) is to have an experienced Atlanta DUI attorney by your side.
What Does Challenging the Breathalyzer Test Mean for DUI Charges?
If you challenge the Breathalyzer test and win, then you may avoid the penalties associated with a DUI. If the Breathalyzer test results constitute the state’s key evidence and you can successfully invalidate them, then the state may drop the DUI charges against you or agree to a reduced charge. That can mean:
- Keeping your license. In Georgia, your driving privileges get suspended automatically when you are arrested and charged with a DUI offense. You can appeal that suspension at an administrative license hearing. The hearing will address the accuracy of Breathalyzer results. If you can challenge those results successfully, then you can get your driving privileges reinstated.
- Avoid jail time. Time in jail can throw your life off track in a hurry. You may lose your job, destroy your relationship with your family, or find it impossible to pursue the activities that usually bring you pleasure. If you can avoid DUI charges by challenging Breathalyzer results, you can avoid jail time and keep your freedom.
- Skip the heavy fines associated with a DUI. DUI charges can quickly lead to expensive fines that add up fast. When you challenge your Breathalyzer results, on the other hand, you can often avoid having to pay those fines, keeping your finances under your personal control.
- Keep the DUI off your record. Many employers check your driving record before offering you a job. Others may fire you immediately for a DUI. If you can challenge the Breathalyzer results and keep the DUI off your record, then you may avoid job loss and keep yourself open to the jobs you want in the future.
While challenging the Breathalyzer results can help prevent you from suffering DUI charges, keep in mind that the arresting officer can present other evidence to show your inebriation. If you drove erratically, swerved over the road, ignored traffic signals, or displayed signs of inebriation once the officer pulled you over, the officer can offer those pieces of evidence to increase the odds of a DUI conviction.
Call Schnipper Law, P.C., if You Want to Challenge a Breathalyzer Test in Atlanta
If you took a Breathalyzer in Atlanta and tested over the legal limit, resulting in DUI charges, you need legal help to protect your freedoms and challenge those results. Contact Schnipper Law, P.C., today at (404) 545-5845 or email us to schedule your free assessment or to learn more about how we can help you challenge the results of a Breathalyzer and protect your ability to drive, your freedom, and your finances.