Breathalyzer devices are routinely used to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) of individuals who are suspected of driving under the influence (DUI). The readings obtained from these devices are then used against a given suspect in court, should the results indicate that the suspect's BAC is over the legal limit of .08 for adults aged 21 and older. However, these devices are notoriously unreliable.
Throughout Orlando and the rest of the state, Florida Highway Patrol will be in full-force with regard to DUI check points and saturation patrols until New Year's Day. Starting 2013 off with drunk driving charges is certainly not the most desirable of happenings, but it could happen. At times, it can be difficult to know when you have had just one drink too many, particularly in the atmosphere of the holidays and catching up with old friends.
One year ago, an Apopka man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for driving under the influence manslaughter, after he allegedly hit and killed a motorcyclist in Orange County. The 31 year old had been drinking and he apparently had a blood-alcohol content of 0.144 at the time of the accident, which is above the legal limit. What makes this conviction unique, however, is that the Fifth District Court of Appeals reversed it and sent his case back to the circuit judge for a new sentence.
According to a report by WFTV Eyewitness News, four out of 10 Florida drivers stopped by police for suspected drunk driving refuse breathalyzer tests. However, what these Florida motorists may not know is that simply refusing a breathalyzer can be a serious offense in Florida.
I do not advocate drunk driving. It is clearly unsafe for the driver and for everyone who shares the road with the driver. However, a POLITICO article reports that the United States Congress is trying to legislatively coerce states to require the installation of a vehicle interlock device on the cars of everyone who is convicted a driving under the influence. This would include first time offender, who may have never had any contact with the criminal justice system. The Congress is able to force states to amend their own statutes by threatening to take away 5 percent of their regularly allocated safety money if they fail to enact this legislation.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) recently launched a "spirited" defense of the Intoxilyzer 8000 machine - the machine it uses to test the blood alcohol content of suspected drunk drivers. Since the Intoxilyzer was put into service in 2005, it has been a subject of ridicule and attack among defense attorneys in several Florida counties who have claimed that it is an inaccurate means of measuring blood alcohol content.
Prosecutors in two counties in Florida have withdrawn the breath tests from around 100 DUI cases, according to a story in the Herald-Tribune. The cases will still proceed, but the prosecution will rely on other evidence, said prosecutors in the article.
Even the most sober, law-abiding driver feels a twinge of panic when he or she sees a police cruiser's lights flashing in the rear view mirror. However, someone who recently had a beer at a local bar or a drink while watching the big game will feel especially vulnerable in this situation. There are some basic steps a driver can take to avoid being pulled over in the first place.