Experienced Nashville Defense Firm

Can I Challenge Breathalyzer Test Results?

Many people give up without a fight in drunk driving cases because they don't think they can overcome Breathalyzer test results. However, pleading guilty is one of the biggest mistakes that anyone can make. An experienced defense lawyer can sometimes overcome evidence that appears overwhelming.

At the May & McKinney, PLLC in Nashville, Tennessee, we recognize how important it is to protect your driver's license and your reputation. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your options following a DUI arrest.

Call us today at (615) 265-6383.

Overcoming Breath Test Results in Tennessee

Even if you had been drinking in the hours before your arrest, that does not mean that you were over the legal limit of .08. Breathalyzer machines make mistakes, and so do the people using them.

With more than 20 years of experience in challenging Breathalyzer test results, Mr. McKinney has the skill and legal knowledge to mount a strong defense. He will investigate every aspect of the breath test and determine if there are any flaws in the prosecution's case. Such flaws may include:

  • Illegal stop — If the police did not have a legal reason to stop you, all evidence gathered after the stop — including the Breathalyzer test — could be suppressed.
  • Breathalyzer error — If the breath test machine was not properly calibrated, the results may be inaccurate.
  • Procedural errors — If the police did not follow proper procedures in administering the test, the results can be suppressed.
  • Other factors — Medicine you were taking, the presence of acetone, and other factors can result in false positives.

Even if the issues we find are not sufficient to suppress Breathalyzer test results, the prosecution may be more willing to negotiate a favorable outcome if we can raise doubt about the accuracy of the results.

Should I Refuse the Breathalyzer in TN?

Tennessee Law allows one to refuse a breath or blood alcohol test in DUI cases. However, a driver of a car or truck involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of another has committed a DUI, vehicular homicide, or aggravated vehicular homicide, the officer shall cause the driver to be tested for the purpose of determining the alcohol content of the driver's blood. The test shall be performed whether the driver consents or not. This also applies to those that have been convicted of a prior DUI in the state of Tennessee.

Tennessee law contemplates one can refuse a breath or blood alcohol test because there are consequences for the refusal. First, in order to ask someone to submit to a breath or blood alcohol test, the police must have reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving under the influence of alcohol, a drug, any other intoxicant, or any other combination of alcohol, drugs, or intoxicants. Secondly, the police officer must advise one what happens if you refuse.

Consequences of Refusing a Breath Alcohol Test

1) You will lose your driver's license for one year on a refusal. However, you can get a restricted driver's license.

2) If you refuse the test it is not a criminal offense pursuant to T.C.A. § 55-10-406 (4)(A).

3) If you refuse to take a breath or blood alcohol test your license and your license is suspended due to a DUI, vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or aggravated vehicle assault case, you have committed a class A misdemeanor that carries a punishment up to 11 months and 29 days in jail with a minimum of 5 days incarceration. The Court can revoke your driver's license from 1 to 5 years, depending on your circumstances.

One additional consequence of refusing a breath or blood alcohol test is that if you go to a trial the court will instruct the jury that they could infer that the refusal to submit to a test could be held against you.

The Basics of the Implied Consent in Tennessee

1) Refusal is civil not criminal charge.

2) The constitution guarantees your right not to be compelled to give evidence against yourself.

3) The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation cuts corners on the integrity of forensic science. The International Association of Chemical Testing, which several members of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation belong, mandates 2 breath alcohol tests on all breath alcohol samples. Tennessee does not comply with the 2 test requirement. Further, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation does not require that manufacturers provide an owner's manual to the machine. Can you imagine buying a car without receiving the owner's manual?

Challenging Reliability of Breath Test Device

Technology is a wonderful thing, when it works right. The problem is that too often the computer-based machines we depend on to provide us with accurate information deliver bad results. If those numbers become the basis for a criminal charge, such as driving under the influence, the consequences can be devastating.

That being the case, it's always legitimate to question whether the state has completely met all the standards required to validate that the test results being used as evidence are reliable. 

In Tennessee, a breath test might be deemed invalid for a lot of different reasons, including if it wasn't administered in keeping with rules set by the state's Bureau of Investigation. If the official doing the test wasn't properly certified, that can cause results to be questioned. Perhaps the most important question may be whether the software of the device used was up to date and certified as such.

Attorneys who represent defendants charged with DUI are suing to end the use of the Alcotest breath test machine. They argue that software changes that the Supreme Court ordered to be made in the devices back in 2008 have never been done. They also argue that versions of the device that are currently used by law enforcement are shy of software coding that is included in newer devices the state has yet to distribute.

The attorneys call that a tacit admission that current devices are lacking in reliability and they ask that results be suppressed as evidence.

Free Consultation About Breathalyzer Tests In Tennessee

For more information about challenging Breathalyzer test results, schedule a free initial consultation with Nashville DUI blood tests lawyers May & McKinney, PLLC today. Simply call (615) 265-6383 or contact us through this website.