Breath & Blood Tests for a Quincy OUI Charge
Understanding the Science Behind Breath & Blood Tests
In Massachusetts and all across the nation, it is illegal to operate a
motor vehicle with .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Under Massachusetts
State law, you are expected to submit to a chemical test if a police officer
has probable cause to believe that you are
operating under the influence (OUI) of alcohol or drugs. However, you have the right to refuse these tests.
Under the "Implied Consent" law, you are essentially giving your
permission to take a blood or breath test for the purpose of determining
if you were drunk driving. When you accept your driver's license,
you are agreeing to submit to a blood or breath test when an officer asks
you to take one. The law provides an exemption for diabetics, hemophiliacs,
and people that take anticoagulants – these people don't have
to take a blood test.
If you refuse to submit to a breath or blood test or if you register above
the legal limit, the police officer is required to take your license away
on the spot. Speak with a qualified and knowledgeable Quincy OUI attorney
right away if you have found yourself in this situation.
Issues with Blood Testing
In 1933 congress finally ended a decade of prohibition. Since anti-drinking
and driving laws were non-existent, drunk drivers wreaked havoc on America's
roadways. As a result impaired driving started to receive national attention
as automobiles grew in popularity. Since drunk driving laws were in the
infantile stages, police officers needed a reliable tool to collect biological
evidence for testing blood alcohol concentration that did not require
a medical doctor be present. Fast forward to present day, these days law
enforcement officers and prosecutors around the nation rely heavily on
breath alcohol testing to investigate and secure OUI convictions. In order
to accomplish this, they rely primarily on breath testing devices such
as the widely used Draeger's Alcotest 7110.
While breath testing is used primarily to detect a driver's BAC, blood
testing is used as well; however, it is considered to be more invasive,
time consuming and expensive. One concern with blood tests is that they
typically withdraw venous blood, which is considered to be less reflective
of the driver's actual impairment as compared to arterial blood under
certain conditions. Also, the person who withdraws the blood must be a
trained technician and sometimes it's less convenient for police officers
to find doctors and nurses to withdraw the blood, and it can be more difficult
to get them to attend evidentiary hearings or trials. Typically, testing
someone's BAC by means of a breath testing device is more preferable
in OUI cases and is therefore the testing method of choice.
History of the Breath Test
The first breath test to enter the scene was the Breathalyzer. Dr. Robert
Borkenstein was the pioneer that invented the Breathalyzer in 1954, and
by 1973, every state had enacted their own Implied Consent Laws. In order
to understand how these breath testing devices work, it's important
to understand how the body metabolizes alcohol.
Alcohol enters the body through oral ingestion of an alcoholic beverage.
The alcohol enters the bloodstream through the stomach and the small intestine
by what is called simple diffusion. The blood transports the alcohol to
the bodily tissues. The veins carry the blood to the lungs where the blood
becomes oxygenated. From that point, the arteries carry the oxygen-rich
blood to the brain and the rest of the body.
Lung tissue is made up of air pockets (alveoli) that are surrounded by
rich membranes. A percentage of the alcohol circulating in the blood will
cross the membranes and evaporate into the air pockets (alveoli). When
the person exhales, air is forced out of the alveoli where it is expressed
from the lungs into the breath. The highest concentration of alcohol is
found in the deepest portion of the lungs, where the air is closest to
the blood. Once the person exhales, the "deep" lung air leaves
the lungs. These breath testing devices are designed to measure the person's
blood alcohol concentration that is drawn from deep within the person's lungs.
Challenging Blood Alcohol Evidence
Whether the suspect underwent a breath or a blood test, neither of these
tests is infallible. All such blood or breath testing procedures are susceptible
to human error, procedural errors and mechanical malfunctions. Breath
testing techniques are expected to strive for accuracy and precision,
and they are expected to stand up to rigorous scientific expectations;
therefore, manufacturers and law enforcement agencies must take specific
steps to ensure the accuracy of these tests. For example, blood alcohol
testing devices must hold up to
- Administrative rules such as accurate records documenting testing of each device
- Proper calibration and maintenance
When people are arrested for OUI, they face criminal charges and penalties
including increased insurance premiums, court fines and driver's license
suspension. As a result, many
OUI defense attorneys litigate these types of cases. One effective way to dispute
an OUI is to challenge the reliability and admissibility of breath and
blood test evidence. Those defendants who hire an attorney to fight their
charges have a
significantly higher chance of getting an acquittal than those who accept their charges.
As an experienced Hingham OUI attorney over the years I have developed
creative and innovative ways to challenge blood alcohol evidence, and
in many cases I have been able to get my clients' charges reduced
if not dropped. If you or someone you love has been arrested for OUI in
Quincy, Weymouth or the greater South Shore area, I strongly urge you to
contact a Quincy OUI lawyer to find out how I can help you challenge any evidence collected against you.