Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

Louisiana DWI breath tests, officers are not infallible

Accusations don't make you a criminal. Defense attorneys realize efforts to clear your name should begin as quickly as possible, with a goal of minimizing consequences. A Baton Rouge defendant may lose opportunities to retain driving privileges and avoid charges, by failing to seek legal advice immediately after an arrest.

A defendant may feel a failed alcohol breath test might as well equal a conviction. That's not necessarily true. Breathalyzer tests aren't always mistake-proof, nor are the police officers who conduct them. An attorney will not take the results of a breath test at face value, without investigating why and how you were tested.

The electronic device used to measure alcohol in your system requires calibration before the unit works properly. Defective devices and poorly calibrated Breathalyzers produce imprecise readings. Unchecked errors can lead to an unfair DWI charge and an undeserved conviction and penalties.

Police officers are expected to be trained to administer breath tests correctly. Some officers are unqualified to perform the tests. Trained officers also can make mistakes.

A criminal defense attorney will find out whether an officer had a good reason to stop you. Reasonable suspicion of intoxication, like driving erratically, must be accompanied by probable cause for an arrest to be valid. Probable cause includes common signs of impairment, but glassy eyes and stumbling speech aren't always the products of alcohol consumption.

A lawyer also will uphold your constitutional right to confront an accuser. You may question the officer who conducted the breath test. The officer's failure to appear in court may add strength to your defense.

Whether one or several of these strategies is used in your case depends upon individual circumstances. An attorney will review defense tactics with you and recommend which of these maneuvers, if any, apply in your situation. The chance a case can be resolved favorably depends heavily upon how quickly you seek legal assistance.

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Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

8048 One Calais Avenue | Suite A | Baton Rouge, LA 70809-3483 | Phone: 225-250-1812 | Fax: 225-769-0195 | Baton Rouge Criminal Law Office