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DUI: The Breathalyzer is not Always Right

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Santa Monica, CAPeople who have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) may think that once the charges are filed there is no point in fighting back. However, Vincent Imhoff, managing partner of Imhoff & Associates, PC, says that is not necessarily the case.

"People should know that it's not just up to what the [breathalyzer] said," Imhoff says. "While that is a significant piece of evidence, it is not the be all and end all. The machine must be calibrated properly, maintained properly and used properly."

dui breathalyzerIn fact, Imhoff says that it is no longer shocking to him when he discovers that the reading on the breathalyzer has an error or has not been properly used or maintained. "There is no guarantee that the results of the breathalyzer is 100 percent accurate," Imhoff says. "We have to look at how the result is arrived at."

There are other elements of a DUI charge that can also be investigated. One such element is the field sobriety test.

"When you look at the sobriety test you have to look at the conditions of the test: the surface, the shoes being worn and the location have a huge impact on standing and turning. It's not fair to say, 'they slipped' if they are in heels on a loose gravel surface. Of course they slipped. Oftentimes, the video camera [in the police car] is a good asset for distilling what has happened."

Although many people associate DUI charges with alcohol only, the charge can actually be used for a number of intoxicants, including oxycontin, heroin and marijuana, although those substances cannot be detected by a breathalyzer. Such cases then rely heavily on the police officer's observations and on field sobriety tests.

Imhoff says that once a person is charged with a DUI, the state's case against the person ends and the defense's case begins. Lawyers examine all the evidence against the defendant. If the defendant has any proof that he or she was not intoxicated while driving, such as the word of a relative or friend, that evidence can help bolster the defendant's case.

If you have been charged with a DUI, there are some important things to remember, according to Imhoff.

"Don't get caught up on feeling guilt. Most DUI does not have any victim other than the defendant, so if you are in that position do not feel guilty. Many people of all walks of life have a DUI in their background. Face the charges in a straightforward and honest manner and you will have a good outcome. And do not always believe the breathalyzer."

If you have been charged with a DUI, contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options.

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