When defending a person charged with DUI, one of the most important questions is whether or not they submitted to a breath, blood, or urine test. Because the truth of the matter is that it is sometimes difficult to win when there is, for example, a blood test showing a BAC of .13%. But as law enforcement agencies strive to make DUI detection more scientific, the pitfalls become more evident; and there are plenty of them.
Generally speaking, the scientific method is a remarkable process that has enabled remarkable achievements. Even most laypersons are at least somewhat familiar with the great advances in science over the last few decades. And research on drug and alcohol impairment is no exception. In the context of DUI defense, however, there is at least one “significant” factor: most police officers aren’t scientists. Although an Intoxylizer generally performs breath analyses, and a crime lab will perform blood or urine analyses, there is still a significant margin for human error. This is true not only when the officer lacks an understanding of the factors and processes involved in the chemical analysis of blood, breath, or urine, but also with basic standardized field sobriety testing.
Therefore, it is no surprise that attorneys who invest time and effort into learning and understanding the science behind DUI detection have a greater chance of walking out of court with a happy client. As a long-time DUI defense attorney, I can attest to the value of understanding (at least fundamentally) DUI science. And I strongly encourage others to not only educate themselves, but to make it an ongoing process capable of keeping up with the field’s constant advances.
There are many opportunities available, such as the Scientific Law Forums’ summer conference in New Orleans next week. Such seminars and conferences not only provide an opportunity to engage other lawyers in the field, but also an opportunity to learn from notable physicians and scientists who can provide invaluable information and insight. So whether you are new to the area of DUI defense or a veteran practitioner, your practice will undoubtedly benefit from a continuous effort to advance your own understanding of DUI science.