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Are DUI sobriety tests reliable in Florida?

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Prosecutors want everyone to believe that breathalyzers are irrefutable proof for DUI charges. The truth is that all sobriety test devices have an inherent margin of error. Even the most accurate devices are off by at least .01%.

Anyone over 21 years old whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) registers .08% or more can be charged with DUI (the limit is .02% for those under 21). If one of these devices measures your BAC at .08%, the actual level could be .07% or lower, which is below an adult’s legal limit.

Factors that can also affect accuracy

Florida law enforcement typically uses three types of sobriety tests that measure BAC in different ways. Breathalyzers and Alco-Sensors use chemical reactions to gauge BAC, while Intoxylizers use infrared light. All of these devices can produce flawed results due to many factors, including:

  • The built-in margin of error
  • Drivers’ health and physiological issues
  • Prescription medications
  • Whether alcohol is in the driver’s mouth at the time of the test
  • Improper calibration of the device
  • When the test is taken
  • Officer mistakes or lack of training
  • Interference from radio frequencies

Some devices are more prone to errors than others. Hundreds of thousands of tests have been thrown out of court across the U.S. due to various errors that make readings unreliable.

Other defenses are possible to refute DUI charges

In addition to challenging sobriety test results, experienced DUI defense attorneys scrutinize every aspect of the case. This includes the arresting officer’s actions and observations in stopping you in the first place. Did they have probable cause to pull you over? In Florida, a judge may throw out the case against you if the correct procedures weren’t followed. Due to these errors and since convictions can lead to devastating impacts, it’s advisable to consider your options before pleading guilty.