Alabama Drunk Driving Arrest: More Ways to Win a DUI Case

Posted by Steven Eversole | Apr 08, 2008 | 0 Comments

Today I will pick up my discussion of the various ways to fight an Alabama DUI charge; If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, this second part of my 20 ways to beat your DUI may be helpful (the first part can be found on my April 28 blog). Below are five more ways a skilled and knowledgeable Alabama DUI lawyer or attorney can help you beat a DUI charge:

6.  Rising Blood Alcohol Level:

A suspect arrested for DUI can blow a 0.15 at the police station, yet have had a 0.07 BAC at the time he was pulled over. Why? This due to the fact that alcohol takes an average of 50 minutes — but as long as three hours — to be fully absorbed into a person's bloodstream, thus creating a peak in blood alcohol level. This is critical, especially if the DUI traffic stop happens relatively soon after an individual has finished drinking.

In this case, your blood alcohol content was likely still rising when you blew in the breathalyzer. This means that even if your BAC was above 0.08 when the blood draw or breath test occurred at the police station (or hospital), it may well have been below 0.08 when you were actually driving. There is no law against having a BAC above 0.08 at a police station; it's only the blood alcohol level while actually driving that counts for DUI purposes.

7.  Alabama Law Requires a 20 minute Observation Period Before The Breath Alcohol Test:

Alabama regulations require the officer to watch the DUI suspect continuously for at least 20 minutes prior to administering the breath alcohol test. The officer must make sure that during this period the person does not consume anything, burp, belch, hiccup or regurgitate. Any of these may cause alcohol to travel from the stomach to the mouth. Blowing this “mouth alcohol” into the breath machine triggers an exaggeratedly high BAC reading.

Officers rarely follow this required observation procedure. They usually perform paperwork, write reports, set up the machine and converse with their partners, diverting their attention from the DUI suspect who must be watched vigilantly during this period. Failure to follow this procedure casts doubt on the validity of the test result, and can sometimes get the test thrown out of court altogether.

8.  Inaccurate Blood-Breath Partition Ratio — Ratio is should be based upon Individual Differences:

DUI breath testing assumes that “breath alcohol” accurately reflects blood alcohol based on a 2100-to-1 partition ratio. This assumption rests on the proposition that the average ratio across the population is 2100-to-1. But studies reveal that the ratio of blood to breath varies greatly among individuals.

A DUI suspect with a ratio lower than 2100-to-1 will generate an inaccurately high reading from a breath alcohol test. And there's no way to determine what a given person's ratio is, or what it was at the time of the DUI breath test.

9.  The Police Officer Failed To Read You Your Miranda Rights:

Police must advise you of your Miranda Rights in a DUI case if (1) you are in custody and (2) they question you seeking to illicit an incriminating response. If the officers continued to interrogate you after placing you in custody for DUI, and did not first read you your Miranda rights and obtain a valid waiver, then your post-custodial statements will likely be excluded from evidence.

10.  Alcohol On Your Breath Does NOT Mean You Are Under the Influence:

In explaining why he believes you were drunk, the DUI officer almost always mentions smelling “a strong odor of alcohol on the suspect's breath.” But the officer looks foolish on cross-examination when he admits that alcohol itself (ethanol) has no odor. Rather, it's the mixing agent or flavoring that produces the odor we associate with alcohol. If you doubt this, go to the market and buy a 6-pack of a non-alcoholic beer. It tastes and smells just like beer; but it contains no alcohol. Also, vodka is a colorless and odorless alcohol. You could drink a gallon vodka and your breath would not smell.

Indeed, laboratory studies show that police officers' perceptions of how strongly a person's breath smells of alcohol simply doesn't correlate with his/her actual blood alcohol level. All that can be gleaned from the odor of alcohol on the breath” is that a DUI suspect probably consumed some alcohol recently. But it does not provide evidence that the person drank enough to be under the influence or to have a BAC of 0.08 or higher.

About the Author

Steven Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama


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