Skip to comments.Defendants put the drunken driving test on trial
Posted on 04/03/2011 3:47:30 PM PDT by The Magical Mischief Tour
Laura Barfield spends a lot of time these days swinging around Florida in her state-issued Chevy to defend the technology that the state uses to catch drunken drivers.
As the state's chief defender of the breath-testing Intoxilyzer, her job is to assure everyone that the most challenged of all forensic tests is accurate and reliable. In recent weeks, she has been called to testify in Sarasota, Hillsborough and Port St. Lucie counties. In the weeks ahead, she has dates with courtrooms in Taylor, Lake, Leon, Pinellas and Escambia. It has gotten to the point where the state's breath-testing machine is never not in litigation.
"It's never going to go away," Barfield says. "It's always going to be something."
The technology has evolved over 73 years, but it's more vulnerable to legal challenge than ever. Partly because of doubts about the Intoxilyzer, prosecutors have struggled to get convictions in some counties. Judges in two counties won't even allow Intoxilyzer evidence.
(Excerpt) Read more at tampabay.com ...
Good. The state should never be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to anything.
The technology is sound, and is almost always followed up with a blood test once the guy gets to jail. For people who come into the ER following an accident, blood is ALWAYS taken for a BAC and drugs of abuse.
The problem is defense loyiz who will throw whatever they can, regardless of how ludicrous it is, up against the wall, hoping some of it will stick.
If you blow the field sobriety test, blow the breathalizer and blow the blood test, you have no defense. Pay your fine, lose your license and watch your insurance rates (assuming you can find another insurance company to issue you a policy) go into low orbit.
Solve that, do a BAT.
In my opinion, we aught to reform the drunk driving laws. It’s like we are charging people with “pre-crime” ala Minority Report. If a drunk commits a crime, charge him with the actual crime, and then suspend his license.
Right now, we’re making criminals of a lot of people up for having a couple drinks who are no more impaired than the idiot talking on his cellphone or the woman putting her makeup on during rush hour.
Not to mention, we’ve tossed aside the 4th Amendment with these random roadblocks, even though studies have shown time and again they are not effective in catching drunk drivers, but are instead used to rack up minor violations to pad government budgets.
Can’t help noticing that the BAC minimum for being drunk back then was 0.15...now it is 0.08. What changed that much? I get MADD just thinking about it.
Seems to me that the amount of alcohol it takes to impair someone is dependent on how often and how much they drink. A non drinker can be totally wasted on one beer, and will have no effect somebody who drinks regularly. Yet their blood alcohol level will be the same if their weight is the same.
“Seems to me that the amount of alcohol it takes to impair someone is dependent on how often and how much they drink. A non drinker can be totally wasted on one beer, and will have no effect somebody who drinks regularly. Yet their blood alcohol level will be the same if their weight is the same.”
Awww, someone getting to the rut of the issue (as Jocelyn Elders would say). The question is how well someone drives, not how much their BAC is. When I was younger, I’d put my 0.12 driving skills up against ANY 85 year old, ANY day, any time (not so much now...so I’m past that stage).
So, how do we prove if that erratic driver with a 0.05 should be off the road, when an person otherwise driving perfectly safe should be locked up and possibly have their career, their finances, and/or their family ruined, just because they stumbled into a checkpoint with 0.09?
Simple answer - simulators. Allow a defense to be that you load up on alcohol to a slightly higher level than you were caught at - if you can prove that you drive safely (which isn’t too hard unless you’re really ripped...as in over 0.15), then you’re acquitted.
Where does the money go see its easy the police state needs more cash they have no desire to be reasonable!
So it’s Ok to drive cdrunk UNTIL you kill someone?
I bet not many people can define the real legal definition of a criminal charge on this site.When you study the issue you may be PISSED!
And lose your security clearance, lose your job, lose your chances of finding another job. Lose your home (because you lost your job). Lose your car. Possibly lose your kids (if you're a custodial parent). Lots to lose if you get busted driving drunk. That's why people are fighting it a lot more these days. There's so much more at stake than there used to be.
It used to be a DUI was a bad weekend. Face the music, pay a fine and bum a ride for a few weeks. These days it is a career killer and a major, life-changing conviction that closes a lot of doors.
I'm not arguing good or bad, just that it is what it is.
For some of is drunk driving hits very close to home. My sister was killed 10 years ago by a drunk driver. She was a surgical nurse working swings at NC Memorial in Chapel Hill. She was driving home around 11:30 when a drunk driver crossed the centerline and struck her head on doing upwards of 80 mph. Mercifully she died instantly. The son of a bitch survived and his BAC was .25. He got 8 years for vehicular manslaughter. He was out in four.
8 years ago, our family dentist, Lynn Stavely, DMD, whom we went to to for almost 15 years, was going home with her family to Hattiesburg, MS on Christmas Eve. A drunk driving a huge SUV ran a red light, t-boned their mini-van and killed Lynn instantly. The impact was so great it BROKE the A-piller of their van, and even though she was wearing a seatbelt, she got ejected. She left behind a husband (who was also a dentist and with whom she shared a practice) and two children, both under 6 years old. He too basically walked away, I can’t recall his BAC but he was stewed.
The technology is sound,
Yeah Right ; Tell that to every diabetic teatotaler who blows a violation...
Which is why they are almost always followed up by a blood test, which is the gold standard.
How many tea tottling diabetics flunk a field sobriety test, which is usually administered first. In most cases the breathalyzer is taken after a field sobriety test if the person is on the borderline in the officer’s judgement.
I've known other drunk driver deaths and accidents in the intervening years. I have no tolerance for those giving buzzed driving a pass. Those commenters are just fooling themselves and putting other lives at risk.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.