Unfair or Unethical? Technology and Field Sobriety Tests

6928823530_afc6430c0bAll across America, much of this year’s holiday cheer will sour into thousands of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The holidays are a built-in excuse for overindulgence in excess food, fun, festivities, shopping, parties, and drinking.

Sadly some of us will overindulge ourselves right into a DUI court. Still others of us may be charged without proper cause. Perhaps we should take a moment to think about what might happen if we’re pulled over by a police officer. Will our rights be fully protected? Is the technology used in field sobriety tests is accurate, unfair, or even unethical?

Margin of Error with the Breathalyzer Test

Everyone has heard of the most common form of technology used to determine if a driver has had too much to drink. The Breathalyzer is meant to calculate the presence of alcohol in a person’s system by assessing the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the individual in question. If the machine says you are over the legal limit in your state, you could be put into handcuffs and driven away in the patrol car.

It all seems legitimate and accurate – after all it is a standardized technological test administered across the nation. However, it is not always scientific, equitable, or fair throughout the process. There is a wide variation between people as well as police officers administering the test. Therefore, there is a wide margin of error.

Drunk People Go Free; Sober People are Arrested

It sounds highly improbable, but as a result of the inaccuracy of the Breathalyzer test, some people who really are intoxicated beyond the legal limit are released to drive home, while others, who are not disobeying the law, are charged with a criminal offense. One of the major arguments is that BAC can only be measured through a blood test – not a breath test.

50 Percent Inaccuracies

Studies have shown that the Breathalyzer operates on a proven margin of error up to 50 percent of the time! That means half of all people who submit to a Breathalyzer test are not accurately “diagnosed” with breaking the law.

That being said, it makes you wonder how police officers can be authorized to issue DUI tickets when the Breathalyzer test upon which they rely is not able to overcome the 50 percent error margin. A breath test to determine BAC is not always the most valid form of measurement of alcohol impairment.

If you have had the unfortunate experience of being pulled over for drunk driving, and you took all the field sobriety tests, including the Breathalyzer, you may want to consult with an experienced DUI attorney in your area so he or she can help determine if you were in fact among the people charged in error. It could make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

Writer LaGeris Underwood Bell hopes everyone manages to enjoy the holiday season without being involved in a DUI incident. She urges moderation in the midst of celebration. For more information about the important issue of field sobriety tests, she suggests logging onto http://www.kellislaw.com/ a Pennsylvania legal professional.


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