Breathalyzer Inaccuracy

BreathalyzerBreathalyzer tests are, to date, the most common form of chemical testing available for determining whether or not a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. This is largely because they are fairly easy to use. Unfortunately, breathalyzer devices have also been shown to have a number of significant design flaws which, over time, can contribute to inaccurate results that, if left uncontested, can put an innocent person behind bars.

There are a wide number of different factors which can lead to inaccurate breathalyzer results. One of the most common is machine calibration – if the calibration formula is off, the results will be as well. Another issue that breathalyzers may have is overreporting results for individuals who have just recently had a drink, as their breath alcohol volume is likely much higher than their blood alcohol volume. Other issues include sensitivity to ambient temperatures, false positives caused by ingestion of foods containing alcohol substances (such as salad dressing), and inaccuracies based on different weights. Most drunk driving defense lawyers know about these factors and use them to defend clients in DUI or DWI cases. For these reasons, some police departments have begun to use the more accurate blood analysis test. If you believe that you have been wrongful charged with a DUI or DWI due to a defective breathalyzer, contact a DUI defense lawyer today.

There is a stigma that comes along with being charged with a DUI or DWI. Charges like these make it hard to get a job, buy a house and apply for a loan. In order to avoid the stigma associated with a DUI or DWI, you might consider expunction, which can remove the criminal charge from your record. To learn more, contact an expunction lawyer today.

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What is Dram Shop Liability?

preventing drunk drivingA dram is a small unit of liquid that was often used to measure out alcoholic beverages. Dram shop is a catch-all term used to describe businesses that serve alcohol. There are many laws surrounding the legal sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. One of the more complicated legal concepts pertaining to alcohol is dram shop liability.

When an establishment serves alcohol, it can be held accountable for the intoxicated behavior of its patrons. This liability extends beyond the walls of the shop, meaning that bars can be held accountable for damages that arise from automobile accidents that are caused by their intoxicated customers after they leave the establishment.

Primarily, dram shop laws have been put in effect to prevent bars and similar businesses from over-serving their patrons. Patrons have to get home from the bar somehow, and many choose to drive themselves. Putting the liability of a customer’s drunkenness in the hands of the bars means they will not serve a person so much alcohol that they are noticeably and dangerously drunk when they leave, making them less likely to be in a drunk driving accident.

While it may seem unfair that these laws limit a bar’s business, it is more unfair for them to profit from overselling alcohol to intoxicated individuals who may be a danger to themselves or other people.

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What is Disulfiram?

In 1948, a group of Danish researchers found, by accident, a new use for a chemical that had been first discovered not too long before. The scientists stumbled upon the anti-alcohol effects of a substance called disulfiram. Since then, disulfiram has been used as a sort of treatment, alongside counseling, for chronic alcoholism.

Disulfiram, commonly sold under the names Antabuse and Antabus, causes the body to react to alcohol consumption differently than it normally would. The drug blocks the enzyme that breaks down partially-metabolized alcohol, causing it to stay in a form that does not work well with the rest of a person’s body.

The result is individuals who are on disulfiram and later go on to consume alcohol experience acute hangover symptoms almost immediately. This includes headaches, nausea, confusion, and vomiting. These symptoms can present themselves from any form of ingested alcohol, even cooking alcohol.

drug causes hangover symptomsSometimes, disulfiram treatments are imposed on individuals who have several DUI convictions. Forcing an individual to take a drug as a punishment is ethically questionable, but if you are in a situation where you could be obligated to take this drug, a lawyer can help you fight the charges against you or have the punishments altered.

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Fighting DUI Charges

Being pulled over by the police is nearly always a nervous experience, especially if they are under the suspicion that you are driving while under the influence of an intoxicant. A DUI conviction can have serious consequences, so it’s important to fight the accusation aggressively.

dui chargesEven though everyone’s case will be different, there are a handful of general defense strategies an individual can use to combat DUI charges. One of the most common defenses is to question the validity of the on-site examinations the police used to determine the defendant’s level of intoxication. Some of the problems with breathalyzers include:

  • They are subject to radio interference
  • The machine must be properly calibrated
  • The officer must administer the test correctly
  • They sometimes register other chemical compounds as alcohol

Field sobriety tests also have their shortcomings, since the way they are administered depends heavily on an individual officer’s perception of your behavior. If you are able to prove in court that there was in error in the sobriety test, you can have the charges against you dropped.

Defending against a DUI charge is not easy and the help of someone who is familiar with alcohol laws and legal defenses can prove invaluable in court.

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DWIs and Your Record in Texas

Driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated charges and convictions can have a serious impact on every area of your life. In many cases, a DWI conviction not only costs you thousands of dollars in court fees, but it can also impact your education opportunities or career.

Understanding how driving under the influence charges and convictions impact your record is extremely important. And while multiple convictions could stay on your record for a very long time, with the help of a DUI lawyer, you may be able to keep these charges or convictions off your record or lessen the severity of your sentencing.

The state of Texas has very strict laws and penalties in regards to DWI convictions. The same goes for DWIs drastically affecting one’s record. Before recent changes to the law, a person could have a DWI expunged from his or her record after a 10-year period if he or she did not have any additional offenses. Unfortunately, that law has changed.

Now, Texas law states that DWI convictions cannot be removed from one’s record for any reason. This is the case whether you have had only one or multiple convictions. In fact, past DWI convictions only affect the severity of penalties with future convictions.

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Parked Car DUI

Although many drivers may not realize this until it’s too late, intoxicated drivers may be arrested on DUI charges even if they aren’t actually driving their vehicle. Commonly known as a parked car DUI, police officers may arrest drunk drivers for indicating their intention to drive their car while intoxicated. DUI arrests are made according to a legal principle known as physical control, in which a driver may be considered, for legal purposes, violating DUI laws even if they aren’t actually operating the vehicle. As long as they’re in physical control of the vehicle while intoxicated, they may be arrested.

What Are The Limits of Physical Control?

According to the law, DUI arrests may be made at any point in which a driver is both intoxicated and has physical control over the vehicle. For the intents of the law, physical control may be extended to include drivers sleeping in the back seat, resting on the hood or trunk of the car’s exterior, or waiting inside a parked vehicle without the immediate intention to drive. There are only a few instances in which a driver may be inside or on their vehicle while intoxicated and manage to give up physical control. Even in these instances, the court may dispute a defendant’s claims.

In some cases, drivers may avoid DUI allegations by storing their keys in an inaccessible compartment while they’re inside the vehicle. For example, a driver asleep in the back seat with their keys in the glove compartment may have sufficiently separated themselves from their means of controlling the vehicle to convince the court that they weren’t in physical control. Similarly, putting keys in the trunk may be enough to clearly show that the driver didn’t have physical control.

If a person gives their keys to someone else, such as a friend, who isn’t in the car while the intoxicated driver is, that driver may have also given up physical control. Without any means to actually operate the vehicle, a driver can’t physically control it.

How Can a Driver Dispute a Parked Car DUI?

Drivers charged with DUIs while their vehicles are parked may have a few important defense options. If they want to fight these charges, they may be able to cite a significant separation between themselves and their keys. As described before, if a driver doesn’t have immediate access to their keys, they may not be considered in physical control of the vehicle, and aren’t breaking DUI laws as a result. A DUI lawyer may be able to help argue this defense.

If a driver wants to consider a plea bargain, a parked car DUI may be considered significantly less serious as an offense. This means that some prosecutors may be much more willing to reduce charges with an admission of guilt. Working with a DUI attorney, a defendant may be able to argue for a substantial reduction of major penalties and may even be able retain their license.

In any scenario, a defendant may want to think carefully about working with a DUI lawyer for their defense case. Parked car DUIs are still the same powerful criminal allegations as DUIs on the road, and may come with extremely detrimental penalties if a defendant is convicted.

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