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What You Need to Know About Challenging Breathalyzer and Blood Test Results in Tampa Bay


Facing charges for driving under the influence (DUI) can have serious consequences. Breathalyzers and blood tests can determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when suspicion arises. For this reason, in Tampa Bay, as in many other regions, law enforcement relies on them.

It’s important to recognize that these tests are not infallible. Inaccurate results can lead to unjust penalties that can disrupt your life in many ways. This includes fines and license suspensions and employment and reputation issues.

You have the right to challenge a DUI charge based on these test results with Hersem Law. Our dedicated legal team is here to assist you in navigating the challenges of DUI cases in Tampa Bay. Contact us today for a free strategy session, and let us help you protect your rights and future.

Understanding DUI Testing Procedures

Knowing the ins and outs of DUI testing is crucial for any DUI defense. The process involves strict protocols and law enforcement oversight. Tests then occur soon after an arrest.

Standardized Breathalyzer Protocol

Every breathalyzer test follows a set procedure. 

  • Officers must use approved devices.
  • It is important to calibrate the device.

If they skip a step or mess up, it could mean the results aren’t reliable. And that’s a big deal in court.

Blood Draw Procedures

Things are super strict. They’re usually done in hospitals or clinics by professionals.

  • There are proper sterilization methods in place.
  • Maintaining the chain of custody is crucial.

You can track all steps involved in drawing and testing your blood. A lawyer can investigate if something seems off, such as mishandling the vial.

Law Enforcement Oversight

Cops play a big part in this whole testing game. They’re like referees, making sure everything goes according to plan.

  • They watch over breathalyzers and blood tests.
  • Their training in procedures matters a lot.

It is possible to challenge their actions if they do not follow protocol or lack proper training. One wrong move could change everything about your case.

Testing Time Frame

Timing is the key after you get arrested for DUI. The law has rules about how fast these tests should happen.

  • Tests should occur within hours of arrest.
  • Delayed testing can affect the results’ accuracy.

Quick testing produces more accurate results. When there is a delay, it can raise doubts since alcohol levels in the body can fluctuate over time.

Legal Process for Challenging BAC Results

In Tampa Bay, challenging breathalyzer and blood test results is a technical process. It involves legal motions and scrutinizing the admissibility of evidence. It also involves ensuring the integrity of the testing devices and procedures.

Filing Motion to Suppress

Disputing blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test results begins as a motion to suppress. This legal move asks the court to throw out flawed BAC evidence.

  • Lawyers may argue that the BAC test is unreliable.
  • The defense may claim that law enforcement lacked reasonable cause for the stop.

Admissibility Criteria

BAC readings must meet certain criteria. These standards ensure that only reliable BAC test results influence a trial’s outcome.

  • The device used needs to have a current calibration certificate.
  • Certification and training are essential for operators.

Discovery Process

Accessing maintenance records is crucial for questioning BAC tests. These documents can reveal if the equipment was functioning during testing.

  • Records may show irregularities or lapses in device servicing.
  • Such findings can cast doubt on that device’s recent BAC test results.

Chain of Custody Standards

It is imperative to maintain a strict chain of custody for BAC samples. Any break could compromise the integrity of the evidence, offering grounds for challenge.

  • Documentation should track every person who handled the sample.
  • If gaps exist, it might suggest contamination or tampering.

Common Factors That Affect Test Results

Various factors impact the accuracy of breathalyzer and blood tests. This section will highlight the elements that influence test outcomes. It will also provide valuable insights for those facing DUI charges.

Residual Mouth Alcohol

Breathalyzer tests are sensitive. They don’t only measure alcohol from your lungs. Sometimes, alcohol lingers in the mouth, leading to high results.

  • Recent drinking or using mouthwash
  • Dental work traps alcohol
  • Belching or regurgitation

These scenarios can contaminate breath samples. Officers must observe you for a period before administering the test.

Medications and Health

Your health and medications matter. They can throw off breathalyzers and blood tests. Some over-the-counter remedies, prescription drugs, and medical conditions influence readings.

  • Diabetes causes ketone production
  • Acid reflux affecting breath samples
  • Certain cough syrups or inhalers with alcohol bases

If you’re on medication or have health issues, it’s vital to inform your attorney. This information could challenge the test results’ validity.

Improper Administration

Accuracy depends on the correct procedure. Officers trained in chemical test administration need to follow strict guidelines. When they don’t, reliability suffers.

  • Calibration errors with devices
  • Lack of training or negligence by the officer
  • Testing outside recommended time frames

Mistakes during administration are not rare. An independent analysis often reveals these errors.

Environmental Influences

Surroundings also play a role. Many external factors can affect breathalyzer devices and the integrity of blood samples.

  • Radio-frequency interference (RFI) from police radios or cell phones
  • Chemicals in the air, like paint fumes or varnish
  • Temperature extremes impacting device function

Filters within devices aim to end such problems, but they’re not foolproof. Detailed scrutiny of the circumstances surrounding the test is essential.

Often, these factors lead to contestable BAC readings:

  • Subject’s Actions: Eating, smoking, vomiting right before a test.
  • Time of the Day: Circadian rhythms influence body chemistry.
  • Analysis Method: The type of technology used for measurement.
  • Sample Handling: The method used for storing and processing blood samples after collection.

Each factor requires a thorough investigation by legal experts.

When to Consider Challenging Test Results

Challenge a breathalyzer or blood test if you suspect discrepancies in the results.

Observed Behavior Clash

Picture this: An officer pulls you over and suspects you’ve been drinking. You feel completely sober and in control. They administer a breathalyzer test, and the results show a high BAC level. This accuses you of intoxication when you’re confident that you’re not. This mismatch can be a big red flag. It could mean something’s fishy with that test result.

Procedural Errors Found

Law enforcement officers have specific procedures for conducting breath or blood alcohol tests. Even a single mistake in these steps can disrupt the accuracy of the results.

  • Did they check that breathalyzer right before using it?
  • Was everything done by the book?

Things don’t function as they should when there’s a slip-up in the procedure.

Medical Conditions Influence

Even without alcohol, certain medical conditions can cause abnormal readings.

  • Diabetic? Ketones might trick that machine.
  • On a low-carb diet? That could also skew things big time.

If your body chemistry plays games with those results, challenging them is necessary. In Tampa Bay, recognizing when to challenge questionable test results is essential. These situations warrant scrutiny. After all, we’re dealing with evidence that could impact your life. Prioritizing the truth is important in these cases.

Implied Consent Laws in Florida DUIs

In Florida, a DUI can lead to an automatic license suspension. Challenging this requires understanding your rights and the proper legal process.

Automatic License Suspension

Refusing a breathalyzer or blood test during a DUI stop triggers immediate consequences. Driving means you’ve agreed to these tests if stopped for suspected DUI. This is under the implied consent law.

Say no, and your license gets suspended on the spot. It’s not only about saying, “I don’t want to,” it’s about knowing what comes next:

  • First refusal: 1-year suspension.
  • Second or later refusals: 18-month suspension and misdemeanor charges.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

If you refuse to test, it’s not only your driving privileges at stake. Other penalties exist. 

  • Fines that hit your wallet hard
  • Possible jail time depends on prior offenses.
  • Mandatory education programs that consume your time.

These aren’t maybe-penalties. They happen when you say no to a test.

Retained Rights

The situation is not hopeless, even with implied consent statutes. You still have rights in your corner:

  • Right to an attorney: Get a DUI attorney on board ASAP.
  • Right to challenge: You can fight back against the suspension.

Remember, voluntary consent doesn’t mean giving up all control.

Contesting Implied Consent Suspension

So you’ve decided to challenge the suspension—what now? Here’s how the process rolls out:

  • Request a formal review hearing within ten days of the suspension notice.
  • Prepare evidence that questions the test request’s legality or arrest conditions.
  • Present evidence and argue against the suspension of your license.

It’s like going into battle—you need strategy and solid backup (your lawyer).

Breathalyzer Accuracy and Technical Flaws

Understanding the intricacies of breathalyzer functionality is crucial when facing DUI charges. Operator errors and device malfunctions can skew results.

Technical Malfunctions

Breathalyzers aren’t foolproof gadgets. They can go haywire like any tech. 

Here’s what can happen:

  • Sensor Issues: The sensor might misread alcohol levels.
  • Power Faults: Low batteries or power glitches affect accuracy.
  • Environmental Factors: Temperature and humidity can throw off readings.

These hiccups could mean the difference between a DUI conviction and an acquittal.

Calibration Standards

Calibration keeps machines honest. It’s like a tune-up for breathalyzers. 

But here’s the catch:

  • Frequency Matters: Regular checks improve their accuracy.
  • Standards Vary: Some places have stricter rules than others on how often to calibrate.

Neglecting these standards can render breath test results unreliable.

Operator Error Impact

Who runs the test matters a lot. Even small mistakes by operators can mess up readings:

  • Training Gaps: Not all operators are experts.
  • Procedure Slip-ups: Skipping steps or doing them wrong influences results.

If the test administrator makes a mistake, you could avoid legal consequences.

Device Certification Defenses

The law is strict about breathalyzer certifications. If there’s a slip-up there, you might have an out:

  • Certification Lapses: Machines need up-to-date paperwork to be valid in court.
  • Irregular Maintenance Records: Sketchy records? That could mean sketchy results.

Pointing out these flaws could dismantle the prosecution’s case against you.

Potential Issues With DUI Blood Tests

In Tampa Bay, challenging DUI blood test results is complex. It involves understanding the risks of contamination and questioning the validity of procedures.

Contamination Risks

Contamination can distort DUI blood test results. From collection to storage, many factors can taint a sample.

  • Unsanitized equipment
  • Exposure to other substances
  • Incorrect storage conditions

An experienced DUI defense attorney knows these pitfalls. They’ll examine every step that could compromise your blood alcohol content reading.

Time Elapsed Concerns

The time between a DUI arrest and the actual blood draw is critical. Delays can affect alcohol levels in the bloodstream.

  • Body metabolism varies from person to person.
  • Alcohol absorption rates change over time.

Defense lawyers argue that passed time undermines the blood alcohol test’s level accuracy. The longer the delay, the more questionable the results may become.

Phlebotomist Scrutiny

Phlebotomists must follow strict protocols during a blood draw. Their qualifications are vital for credible results.

  • Proper certification and training are essential.
  • Adherence to standard operating procedures ensures reliability.

A defense attorney will verify if any slip-ups occurred during your blood testing.

Validity of the Question

Challenging a DUI charge hinges on questioning the validity of the test results. Blood draws and later analysis face intense scrutiny in courtrooms across Tampa Bay.

  • Was proper protocol followed?
  • Are there gaps in documentation?

With examination, an attorney may reveal flaws that put your entire case in a different light.

Rights and Defense Strategies 

Learn essential information about defense strategies about challenging breathalyzer and blood test results. Let’s explore your rights and some smart defense strategies if you face such a situation.

Independent Blood Retesting

Independent labs can re-examine your blood samples after a DUI test in Tampa. This is huge because it means you’re not taking law enforcement’s word for it.

  • You can request a part of the sample to assist your defense attorney.
  • Your attorney will send it off to a separate lab that has no ties with the police.

This retesting could show mistakes or prove that the original test was way off base. It’s like getting a second opinion from another doctor. Sometimes, they catch stuff the first one missed.

Miranda Rights Violations

If cops slip up with your rights, this could be a game-changer for your defense strategy.

  • If law enforcement didn’t read these rights at the right time, it might help your case.

Legal Options Exploration

Having experienced defense attorneys by your side provides you with various legal options. These professionals are well-versed in defending individuals in Tampa Bay Area courts.

  • They’ll examine the quality of the breathalyzer and blood tests.
  • They’ll dig deep into any technicalities that could work in your favor.

Your attorney functions like legal detectives, searching for loopholes that could benefit you. Discovering such loopholes could be in your favor.

Expert Testimony Use

At times, having an expert witness can make a difference. These specialists can analyze the evidence. They can do this, especially if there are doubts about the accuracy of your tests.

  • An expert might explain why results aren’t reliable due to health conditions or diet.
  • They also might point out errors made during testing procedures.

Imagine having an expert explain why those test results might not be trustworthy. That’s what these experts do—they’re skilled at raising doubts about uncertain evidence. Defense attorneys across Tampa understand these strategies’ importance when fighting DUI charges. Remember, knowing what options are available can make all the difference.

Facing DUI Charges? Reach Out to Hersem Law.

At Hersem Law, we understand the challenges of DUI cases. Our experienced attorneys are here to provide you with the guidance and support you need. We’ll protect your rights, challenge questionable test results, and build a strong defense. We value your future, which is why we encourage you to reach out today. 


  • What should I do first if I want to challenge my DUI test results?

Immediately contact a qualified attorney familiar with Tampa Bay’s laws. Your attorney will review the specifics of your case and determine the best course of action. This may include analyzing the test administration process for any irregularities or inaccuracies.

  • How can an expert witness help my case?

An expert witness can provide critical insights into your breathalyzer or blood test. They can identify technical flaws or procedural errors. This undermines the prosecution’s evidence against you.

  • Are there specific attorneys who specialize in challenging DUI tests?

Yes. Some attorneys specialize in DUI defense. They may also have experience with challenging breathalyzers and blood tests. Look for a lawyer with a strong track record in this area within Tampa Bay’s jurisdiction.

  • Can I refuse a breathalyzer or blood test without consequences?

Refusing a breathalyzer or blood test may result in automatic penalties. This could include license suspension. Consult an attorney for advice tailored to your situation.

  • What is the timeframe for challenging my BAC results after my arrest?

The time frame for challenging BAC results varies depending on several factors. To preserve evidence and meet deadlines, you should immediately contact an attorney.

  • What are some common defenses used when challenging these tests?

Common defenses include questioning calibration records for breathalyzers and improper handling of samples. Also, operator error during testing procedures and medical conditions affecting BAC readings.

  • Will challenging my BAC results drop my charges?

Challenging BAC results does not guarantee the dropping of charges. Raising doubts about accuracy may help reduce charges or improve plea deals.