Breathalyzers and the Potential for Violation of Civil Liberties

Tags: Criminal Defense, DUI

While you may know you have some rights during a police stop, do you know what your rights are related to a breathalyzer test?

Law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over and probable cause to search your person or your vehicle. Any unlawful search of your person or your property could amount to the suppression of evidence or the dismissal of your case. What if a cop asks you to take a breathalyzer test? Are your civil liberties at stake?

The law surrounding breathalyzer tests varies depending on the circumstances. What if you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint? Or if an officer claims he saw you swerve over the median?

The consequences for simply submitting to a breath test can be severe, even if the breathalyzer tests show the driver’s blood-alcohol content was under the legal limit of 0.08 percent. For example, some instances, students have been penalized by their university because of an arrest, even if not convicted. In some cases, a driver can still be arrested if the BAC was under the legal limit, so long as the officer has probable cause to suspect that whatever was consumed resulted in impairment.

Getting pulled over and arrested with DUI can have lasting effects on your personal reputation, as well as your educational or professional opportunities.

Experienced defense attorneys know that getting involved early can help minimize the impact of a DUI arrest. Our Birmingham DUI defense attorneys are experienced in the investigation of alleged drunk driving offenses. We will review the circumstances of your case, collect relevant evidence and aggressively defend your rights. We will work to have charges dismissed or significantly reduced.

Even though drunk driving is a leading public safety concern, civil liberties are at stake when it comes to breathalyzers, blood testing and enforcement. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30 percent of car accident deaths are caused by drunk driving.

Breathalyzers are a quick way to test the blood-alcohol level of a driver. Yet results are not always accurate. There is a growing concern among civil liberties advocates the breathalyzer test is inherently flawed, producing false positives, invading privacy and illegally violating a driver’s civil liberties.

State courts, including Alabama state courts, have had complications in recent years when wrestling with whether results are scientifically accurate and whether the results produced are correct. DUI cases hinge on the results of a breathalyzer test and an improper result could unfairly result in significant penalties including fines, jail time, and a lasting criminal record. Drunk driving convictions can be upheld on the basis that a driver was over the limit based on a breathalyzer or blood test, or if the prosecution can prove that the driver was impaired.

At the time of arrest, drivers are usually asked to submit to a breathalyzer and then asked to take another at the precinct after the arrest. Every accused drunk driver should have their results reviewed by an experienced advocate.

Per implied consent laws, refusal to submit to these tests will result in an automatic, one-year license suspension.

Some drivers have been convicted for DUI even when they did not blow over the legal limit. Having an experienced drunk driving defense attorney can help protect your civil liberties while ensuring you are not over-charged or over-penalized for an alleged offense.

If you are facing DUI charges in Alabama, contact Alabama Criminal Lawyers at (205) 994-0616 or use our online contact form.

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