The News-Press in Fort Myers is reporting that a challenge to the state’s DUI law there could impact thousands of cases pending throughout Florida.
Attorneys are arguing that the law is unconstitutional and should be stricken from the books. Certainly, a success in this case could have wide-ranging effects. The argument is that the Intoxilyzer 8000, the breath-testing machine used statewide by law enforcement, is defective and therefore a violation of citizens’ constitutional rights.
West Palm Beach DUI lawyers have seen how breath testing in Broward DUI cases have been challenged time and time again because of faulty equipment. Florida’s DUI defense lawyers have been fighting for access to the system’s code.
Because the State of Florida only authorizes one machine for departments to use, they have all been using the faulty Intoxilyzer 8000 for years. In Sarasota, prosecutors have been dropping DUI cases and tossing out breath-testing evidence because of issues with the machine.
It appears that in Naples, progress is being made to look at cases there as well. It’s possible that as more and more cases enter the system, the state will have to take a closer look at its device and perhaps make a change. In Washington D.C., police have quit using their breathalyzer devices altogether after problems and questions about reliability surfaced.
When a driver submits to a breath test, they are assuming, and the officer too, that the machine works. Even if they aren’t guilty, they can be placed in handcuffs, taken to jail, have their mug shot put online for the world to see and humiliated, possibly losing their job, because of a faulty machine. Even though the law requires the state to prove the case, they must fight to restore their image to friends, co-workers and others who may cast judgement.
And that’s on top of fighting to prove the test was incorrect so they don’t face possible jail time, fines and fees, DUI school, a driver’s license revocation or other penalties.
Experts quoted by the News-Press say that DUI cases are the only in the criminal justice system where there is “secret science,” where defendants aren’t allowed to know how breath machines really work. Even DNA processes are open to defendants.
The machines have not only spit out incorrect blood-alcohol content readings, but also have measured impossible levels of air blown into the machines. The average lung has 5 or less liters of air, but machines have been known to record 12 liters of air, which can’t possibly happen.
Let’s hope that Broward prosecutors begin looking at ways to ensure defendants get a fair trial. Drivers deserve a fair process when they get pulled over and charged with DUI. If they refuse a breath test, their license is automatically revoked; if they take a breath test, they are getting an incorrect reading. It’s a lose-lose situation that must be fixed.
If you are arrested in West Palm Beach or elsewhere in South Florida, contact Leifert & Leifert at 954-523-9600 or 561-988-8000 for a free consultation.
More Blog Entries:
Florida DUI Penalties Can Be Stiff; Fort Lauderdale DUI Attorney is Key: May 16, 2011
Florida’s DUI law challenged, by Denes Husty III, News-Press