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Breath Testing in Darien DUI Cases

Typically, during a Darien DUI stop, the breath test involves a machine that a person must blow into. The most common machine that most people are familiar with is called the breathalyzer.

To better understand the role of breath testing in your Darien DUI case, it is imperative to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced DUI attorney in Darien can help to lessen or dismiss any potential penalties associated with your charge.

Administering the Test

When administering the breath test in a Darien DUI, the police officer needs to make sure the person does not ingest anything, get sick, vomit, or anything like that for a period of time, usually 15 minutes before they take the breath test. Even a hiccup, for example, could actually affect the reading.

Once a person gets the all clear after 15 minutes, they have to blow into a machine until it beeps and can render a reading. In between any breath test, they do an air blank. This involves shooting an air blank into the machine to make sure it is reading at zero, to prove it is not rendering a false positive.

After the person gives the first air sample, they do that again. An officer will shoot another air blank through it to make sure that it is not rendering a false positive, and then will wait at least 10 minutes before they ask the person to give another air sample and get another reading. They are required to make sure that everything is consistent with the machine.

Requirements of the Machine

The machine used for breath testing in a Darien DUI case needs to be a recognized machine, which is why a lot of the departments use the breathalyzer, because it is well recognized in Connecticut. It should be calibrated sometime in the recent past, although the courts do not impose a strict guideline as to when the calibration must happen.

They also have to make sure that the machine can shoot the air blanks through it to make sure that reads a zero, to make sure there is no alcohol present in the machine that does not come from the suspect, and to make sure everything is in working order.

Steps an Officer Must Take

When administering a breath test in a Darien DUI case, an officer needs to keep an eye on the person for at least that 15-minute period to make sure that they did not burp, hiccup, or do anything that could falsely put alcohol in their mouth before they take the breath test.

Then, the officer needs to make sure to shoot an air blank through the machine to make sure that a fine test is zero. They also need to make sure the machine is clean to make sure there are no remnants of alcohol left from any past user. They need to make sure that it is sterile and has a new mouthpiece in it for the new person to blow into.

Challenging the Results

In most cases in Connecticut, the police officer will end up bringing the person back to the station to administer the test. If they are running up against the two-hour time limitation to get the breath test, however, that is when one might see a roadside breath test.

Challenging the results of the breath test would work the same way as challenging any other breathalyzer test.

For example, maybe the machine was not calibrated, or maybe the officer did not watch the person for 15 minutes to make sure they were not hiccupping or something like that. The same defenses that would apply to the main breathalyzer would also apply to the roadside breath test.

Preparing a Defense

The most common way to challenge a breathalyzer result is when the police officer says that the person refused to take the test when the person was actually trying to blow into it. If that is the case, the person should immediately talk to their doctor to determine if there is an underlying medical condition that prevented them from taking the test.

It is important to try to get something in writing because if that is the case, the individual might be able to save their driver’s license from getting suspended.

If the person has access to their own breath test or their own way to measure blood alcohol content—it is rare that the person does have that, but if they do and they are able to get that test administered around the same timeframe—they would be able to show that the Darien Police Department's device was incorrect and this other test was correct.

Other than that, an individual might want to issue or have their attorney request discovery through the court case regarding the device that was used to give the breath test, for example, any calibration dates, any manuals that came with the machine, and how it should ideally be used, because that might be relevant to their defense as well.