Successfully challenging a DUI can result in dismissal (expungement) or a reduced charge such as reckless driving. The results are worth the effort. But you many not be able to do it alone, especially since DUIs are tried in South Carolina by jury.
Retain Help to Challenge Your DUI
DUI attorneys know how to look for procedural and operational testing errors that can influence false test results. And there are many.
At Strom Law Firm, we’ll review these strategies during an initial, no-fee consultation to help you determine whether or not to plead guilty.
Founded by a former U.S. Attorney, the team at Strom Law also includes a former Public Defender, and a former Assistant Attorney General and Richland County Assistant Solicitor. It’s awarded the highest Martindale-Hubble ranking and collectively holds more than 50 years of complex litigation experience.
To request an evaluation of your case, fill out the Free Case Evaluation form on the right or call us immediately. Let us fight your DUI charge, and help you protect your freedom and financial future.
Challenging a Breathalyzer Test
For South Carolina, “a breathalyzer” actually refers to a DataMaster unit, which measures blood alcohol via infrared wave readings of breath samples. These units are maintained by SLED at approved breath testing sites across South Carolina.
The accuracy of a DataMaster breathalyzer depends on the unit, the timing of the testing and the testing process for the suspected motorist. Plus, there are procedural steps such as videotaping a breathalyzer test, which if omitted, can weaken the prosecuter’s ability to use it as evidence.
Breathalyzer Testing in South Carolina MUST Include …
- The machine must be properly maintained and in working order.
- The testing operator must comply with a 20-minute observation period before testing. This 20-minute period should be recorded on videotape. The purpose of this procedure is to rule out a false reading. If the suspected motorist had a drink just prior to testing, the reading will not be reliable.
- The collection of breath sample must be taken within two hours of arrest.
- The test administrator is required to be trained and certified by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.
- The suspected motorist must be informed of a right to refuse a breathalyzer.
- Before a breath test is administered, a simulator test must be performed on the DataMaster with a result between 0.076 percent and 0.084 percent.
- Maintenance records on the specific DataMaster must be made available by SLED upon request.
- The motorist being tested must be notified in writing that he or she has the right to select a qualified person of choice to conduct additional tests. The arresting officer must provide “affirmative assistance” for this endeavor or else any police-administered breath test will become inadmissible.
Failure of the legal requirements listed above makes the case to challenge an existing breathalyzer test or procedure.
False Readings From Physical, Biological and Medical Nuances
Finally, a motorist’s own biology or medical condition may give false readings on a breath test such as:
- the depth of breaths
- excess saliva
- physical size
- medical condition
Challenging Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are notoriously bad indicators of intoxication. Judging FSTs is a highly subjective process, which has led to countless false DUI accusations.
Subjective FSTs Equals False DUI Charges
- Accuracy rates among studies vary widely. So in an effort to provide law enforcement with roadside tools for assessing the suspicion of DUI, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed standardized testing procedures for the top three FSTs: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk and Turn, and One Leg Stand (watch these FSTs). The goal was to develop a consistent reliable point system and properly train law enforcement to administer standard procedures. However, the new point system is still subjective.
- Studies show that the three standardized FSTs were found to only be 65-77% effective, leaving their results open to dispute in court proceedings. (NHTSA studies had a higher accuracy rate for these tests. Which are right?)
- Also, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) admits if “any of the standardized field sobriety test elements is changed, the validity is compromised.” According to the National Association of Criminal Defense, “a number of courts have held that if not properly administered, the SFSTs are not admissible.“
- Given the inaccuracy of roadside sobriety tests, many people are wrongly accused of DUI. Moreover, very few officers actually conduct roadside sobriety tests in accordance with established procedures.
The best way to argue against field sobriety test results is to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. The DUI Defense lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC offer a free, no cost case consultation. Contact us today at 803-252-4800 or fill out the form in the top right column to reach us.
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