Challenging Hampton Roads DUI Breath Tests

If you have been charged with a DUI, the prosecution’s case against you may be based largely on the results of a breathalyzer test. If so, challenging Hampton Roads DUI breath tests could be a valid defense strategy. Contact a skilled criminal lawyer today to discuss your breath test results and begin building your defense.

Breathalyzer Machines in Virginia

In Hampton Roads, a person is given a breath test at the police station. The police will take the person in, observe them for a period of at least 20 minutes to make sure that they do not consume any alcoholic beverages, vomit, belch, or do anything that could impact the results. Then they are instructed to blow into the machine and the machine will provide the results.

The police can also use a portable breath test at the side of the road, but these are not admissible as evidence at trial. However, the results of the portable breath test can be used to determine probable cause and possibly to make an arrest. The breathalyzer machine takes a sample of the person’s breath, analyzes it, and reports back with the amount of alcohol content in that sample.

The only breath tests that are admissible in court are breathalyzer machines which are used at the police stations. In Virginia, breathalyzers are technically referred to as the Intoxilyzer 5000. These machines analyze a person’s breath and prepare a printout of the result indicating their blood alcohol content based on their breath.

Requirements for Intoxilyzer Machines

In order for the Hampton Roads Court to allow the evidence from a testing device:

  • It must be working properly
  • It must not be malfunctioning or providing error messages
  • It has to be calibrated according to the Virginia Department of Forensic Sciences
  • There must be certificates showing that the testing device has been calibrated regularly
  • The machine must be kept clean and functional
  • The officers have to make sure that there are no past samples contaminating the results

Breathalyzer Result Validity

In order for the breath test results to be considered valid, the officer needs to:

  • Make sure the mouthpiece of the testing device is clean with no residue leftover from past samples
  • Zero-out the testing machine at the beginning of the test so that it is functioning properly
  • Observe the subject for a period of time to make sure they do not do anything that could possibly trigger the result into a false sample result

When challenging Hampton Roads DUI breath tests, defense attorneys should carefully consider the facts of the situation to see if the test was valid.

Challenging a Roadside Breath Test

In Virginia, the breath test taken on the side of the road is not normally admissible in court. The police can testify that they gave the person a breath test but they cannot testify as to the results of the test. It is not in the best interest of the defense attorney for that result to come into evidence. If for some reason it is found admissible (probably not a DUI case but maybe a public intoxication case), the defense can question the reliability and accuracy of that portable roadside breath test machine. For example, the defense may ask whether it was properly calibrated or how recently it was used.

A person should try to observe everything they can when being stopped for possible DUI so they can preserve the breath sample test results and any of the materials that the machine printed. This information will help lawyers who are challenging Hampton Roads DUI breath tests.

Calling a Hampton Roads DUI Attorney

If you have been accused of a DUI, you should contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. Challenging Hampton Roads DUI breath tests can be difficult on your own, but an experienced lawyer could help. Speak with a persistent legal advocate today and know that you are in capable hands.