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Understanding Chemical Intoxication Evidence in an OWI Case

If you are going to fight back against a drunk driving charge which is backed up by chemical intoxication evidence, you need to understand the evidence, the procedures that are supposed to be followed, the equipment used, and other aspects that could prove crucial to your case. Hiring an experienced DUI defense attorney will allow you to thoroughly review and comprehend the legal terminology, case precedents, and other details involved in a DUI/OWI case, so that you can be fully prepared to fight back against wrongful conviction and excessive criminal penalties.

Chemical Intoxication Test in Michigan: Consent

By getting a driver’s license, you have already consented to a chemical test if an officer legally requests one. This means that in the majority of OWI cases, some kind of blood, breath, or other chemical test is involved. While in some cases these tests can show whether or not a person is intoxicated, there are many problems that can arise if the tests are not administered properly or if certain errors are committed by police, people handling evidence, or the prosecution.

Contact Grabel & Associates immediately if you are in need of top-level representation for a drunk driving case. For over a decade, our firm has fought for the rights of Michigan’s accused, and we know what it takes to challenge chemical evidence and fight back after a false OWI allegation. Read on for more information about chemical testing and breathalyzer test evidence.

Breathalyzer and DataMaster Evidence in Michigan OWI Cases

During a breath test, a suspect’s breath is captured in a small chamber, through which an infrared light passes. On the other side, a measurement of the intensity of the light is taken, and the amount of light lost passing through the chamber is converted into a blood alcohol content. These devices are based off the principle that when a gas and a liquid are enclosed in a container together, the amount of gas in the air is proportional to the amount dissolved in the liquid.

The most commonly used breathalyzer device is the DataMaster, which is an infrared spectrometer used in all Michigan drunk driving cases. The DataMaseter, like many other breath test devices, utilizes infrared technology to measure the amount of alcohol in a given breath sample.

Issues with Breathalyzer Test Evidence in OWI Cases

There are a number of issues that make chemical evidence from Datamasters unreliable, some of which are mentioned below:

  • Different people absorb alcohol at a different rate, thus a breath test may not actually accurately show what a driver’s BAC is.
  • Females have higher water content than men, and thus may react to alcohol differently than men.
  • The equation used to convert test result into BAC is not easily used in court, since the equation is formulated based on an average person and not easily applicable to individual cases.
  • Some studies show that up to 15% of people will test at a higher BAC than they truly have.
  • Like all measuring devices, the DataMaster can never be completely reliable in every case.
  • The reliability of a breathalyzer greatly depends on the maintenance and calibration of the device.
  • The DataMaster can be affected by radio frequencies.
  • Breath tests are not usually specifically designed for alcohol.
  • Mouth alcohol can lead to a falsely high reading, and efforts made to combat this error have been deemed largely ineffective.

Blood Test as Evidence in Michigan DUI cases

It is a lot harder to dispute blood test evidence, though there are still errors that can occur and lead to a false result. In a chromatographic test, results are significantly more reliable than breath tests; however the test must still be performed by a trained healthcare professional. In addition, the blood needs to be drawn in a sterilized medical environment, handled by professionals, and must follow a distinct chain of evidence with no gaps in knowledge of who had the sample.

A forensic expert should also inspect the blood sample and make comments on the integrity of the sample. Certain complications can arise, such as coagulation of the blood, which can cause naturally occurring microbes in the blood to turn sugars into alcohol. If the blood is not drawn correctly or if the blood kit is expire, this is definitely a risk. Exposure to high temperatures can also lead to centrifuging, which artificially concentrates the liquid portion of the blood as the solid portion is removed.

Cross-Examination by a Forensic Expert in an OWI Case

A skilled defense lawyer will know how to cross-examine any witnesses for the prosecution, and will use this opportunity to challenge the chemical intoxication evidence presented. During cross-examination, a lawyer should be able to find out where an expert was educated and trained, how a sample was handled, how certain tests were performed, who labeled a sample, who verified the results, the range of error in similar cases, and other specific details.

It is critical to work with an attorney who has a comprehensive understanding of blood and breath test evidence so that no potential defense is overlooked. Grabel & Associates is available 24/7 to begin applying a decade of DUI defense experience to your unique case. Call 1-800-342-7896 now to speak with an attorney in a free, confidential case consultation.


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