California’s DUI laws can be complex and confusing. In this section, our attorneys break down the rules and explain the process.
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In an effort to crack down on drunk driving, DUI issues are often reported in the news. Because of this, we all are aware that if we are pulled over for a DUI, we will be called upon to take a breathalyzer test. The breathalyzer machine is touted as being completely accurate, and the final determining factor of a person’s blood alcohol level. The mindset is if you blow a .08% BAC you are going to be convicted for a DUI, no questions asked. Being arrested for a DUI is a scary experience. It is important to keep the following points in mind:
Breathalyzer Tests Aren’t Always Accurate
There are a lot of variables that can alter test results. The machine could be calibrated incorrectly. These machines are supposed to be regularly maintained to ensure accuracy. In a DUI case, a California DUI attorney could request the maintenance records of a machine to see if it has been maintained properly.
A Small Amount of Alcohol Can Result in a DUI
People are often under the assumption that they can have one or two drinks and still be within the legal limit. This isn’t true. There are a lot of factors that can influence blood alcohol levels. A couple of drinks for a 200lb. adult male would produce an entirely different reading than that of a 120lb. woman. The amount of food consumed, the time involved in consuming the drinks, health issues and medications can all alter BAC levels.
Know Your Rights
If you are stopped for a DUI, you can refuse to take the breathalyzer test. However, it is important to know how this could impact your case. If you refuse, it may result in an automatic license suspension through the Department of Motor Vehicles. It is important to note that in some states such as California and New York, refusal to take the test is its own separate crime. So you could theoretically be found not guilty of a DUI but still be on the hook for refusing to take the test.
Breathalyzer Results Can Be Challenged In Court
Some believe that a breathalyzer result is a final say in terms of BAC levels, and if you have a result of .08% you are doomed. This is not the case. Test results can be, and often are, challenged in court. This is one good reason why having a skilled lawyer is important in a DUI case.
Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
There is a lot of misinformation out there about ways to beat a breathalyzer machine. Chewing gum, hyperventilating right before the test, or sucking on a penny will do nothing to reduce your blood alcohol level.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.