Challenging Mecklenburg County DUI Breath and Blood Tests

In order to determine whether someone is driving while impaired, law enforcement will typically ask an individual to consent to a breath test or a blood test. The first breath test used in Mecklenburg County will be a preliminary breath test used on the roadside by an officer. The results of that test are only for assuming probable cause and are not admissible in court. The other breath test is the breathalyzer machine housed at the law enforcement station. That machine is more reliable. Those are the results that the prosecution will try to introduce in court. Blood tests are more likely to be used in cases involving drug DUIs. If an individual thinks that their results are inaccurate and wants to know more about challenging Mecklenburg County DUI breath and blood tests, they should consult a knowledgeable DUI attorney today.

The Validity of Breath Tests

A breath test is administered at the law enforcement station. Law enforcement will observe the accused for 20 minutes prior to initiating the breath test to try to reduce the presence of mouth alcohol that could interfere with accurate test results. They will then instruct the accused to blow into the machine that will deliver a result. Often, the accused is instructed to blow into the machine twice so that they can confirm the result.

The breathalyzer machine takes input from the accused’s breath, then processes it in a way that produces a result describing the blood alcohol content based on analysis of the breath. In order for a sample to be considered valid, the machine must have been calibrated on a regular interval, but a specific interval is not required.

Law enforcement officers need to observe the accused for 20 minutes prior to administering the test to the accused. If that observation period is skipped, there is a high risk of mouth alcohol being present and the test is essentially deemed unreliable.

How Might the Defense Challenge the Breath Test

If a person wants to start the process of challenging Mecklenburg County DUI breath and blood tests, they should contact a DUI attorney who is local and understands local courts, law enforcement, and prosecution. Their attorney will then advise them on what steps can be beneficial to accurately challenging the blood or breath test, and that could include independent lab testing of their blood or breath.

A roadside breath test will not be admitted in court. However, it can be an important step in the case in that it helps demonstrate probable cause for the arrest determined by the officer. The defense will challenge the results of the roadside breath test based on the information regarding the unfolding of events leading up to the breath test. The defense might be able to argue that there was no reason for the officer to administer the roadside breath test and that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest the accused.

DUI Blood Tests

If an officer suspects an individual of DUI, they can seek a blood draw if a breath test is otherwise unavailable or if the officer believes that somebody might be impaired due to drug consumption rather than alcohol. However, increasingly, a search warrant is necessary to appropriately test an individual’s blood.

A blood test will be performed much like any blood draw at a doctor’s office. They will take a small amount of blood through a syringe from a person’s arm. That will be done by a licensed nurse or phlebotomist, either at a hospital or at the law enforcement station, depending on the circumstances.

Blood tests tend to be highly accurate in determining BAC or the content of other drugs. Blood tests are very accurate in determining the presence of drugs in an individual’s blood but, depending on the drug, determining impairment requires expert testimony.

Justifiable Reasons to Refuse a Blood Test

A valid medical condition will always be a justifiable reason to refuse a blood test. There might be other circumstances in which submitting to the blood test would be a significant impairment to the individual. Additionally, nobody should ever consent to a blood test. Law enforcement can obtain a blood test from an individual if they get a valid search warrant, and everyone should require law enforcement to get a search warrant prior to having blood drawn. If a blood test is done without a search warrant, challenging Mecklenburg County DUI breath and blood tests is a legitimate action an attorney could take.

Steps a Mecklenburg DUI Attorney Could Take to Challenge Breath and Blood Tests

Often, a DUI lawyer will challenge constitutional issues that may have arisen prior to a blood draw having been taken. There are other opportunities to challenge blood tests, including chain of custody issues, how the test was performed, and how the test was analyzed. If any expert evidence is offered by the prosecution, the defense will have an opportunity to challenge that testimony as well. A skilled DUI attorney could be instrumental in challenging Mecklenburg County DUI breath and blood tests, and building a person’s defense.

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