Here in Washington state, when drivers are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, they often refuse to take a breath test. It is their right to do so, but the decision can then be used against them in court as circumstantial evidence of their guilt. Of course, drivers do not always make the decision to refuse a breath test because they think it will prove they are drunk; they often refuse the tests simply because they are notoriously inaccurate.
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was arrested last month after blowing exactly a .08 percent on a breath test in California. After he was arrested, he blew slightly over a .08 on a calibrated breath test at the jail. However, Lynch pleaded not guilty to the DUI charges last week, which suggests his defense attorney may believe the blood alcohol content read by the breath tests was inaccurate.
The man was arrested on July 14 after a highway patrol trooper reportedly saw him weaving in the van he was driving. He was charged with two counts of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Here in Washington state, the breath test result obtained at the scene of the arrest may be used only to establish a basis for an arrest. Evidence from these portable tests is not admissible at trial. This is why police typically take a second test at the police station on the BAC DataMaster.
But even the DataMaster has its problems. The DataMaster can give inaccurate results due to a number of factors, including: improper operation, mouth alcohol, manner of breathing, defendant's body size and temperature, dentures or diseases such as diabetes.
When the readings are not solid, experienced defense attorneys can often challenge them in court or seek to have the charges dismissed altogether. It is not clear yet what Lynch's defense may be, but his plea does indicate that his defense believes there is not enough evidence to convict him of the charges.
Source: Yahoo! Sports, "Seattle's Lynch enters not guilty plea in DUI case," Tim Booth, July 26, 2012
- Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Seattle DUI Breath Test page.