Thursday, May 15, 2008


A group of judges in New Hampshire was served several alcoholic drinks as part of an experiment that was intended to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Breathalyzer. One judge was given so many drinks that he became visibly intoxicated. When the judge blew into the Breathalyzer, the machine registered a score of 0.0. After a few more tries, the Breathalyzer gave the same result. Following the demonstration, at least one police jurisdiction in the state ceased using the Breathalyzer in favor of blood tests. (See Margaret Graham Tebo, New Test for DUI Defense, ABA Journal (Feb. 2005).)
The Breathalyzer is by far a less accurate test than a blood test. A blood test actually measures blood alcohol concentration (BAC). But a Breathalyzer merely estimates it. It measures "breath" alcohol concentration, and requires a difficult mathmatical conversion to correlate it to a "blood" alcohol concentration.
What the Breathalyzer attempts to measure is the presence of chemicals found in alcohol. But the machine often measures chemicals with molecular structures similar to those found in alcohol. There are, in fact, there are numerous chemical compounds that can fool a Breathalyzer machine.
According to Dr. David Hanson, Over 100 compounds can be found in the human breath at any one time, and 70 to 80 percent of them contain [a] methyl group structure and will be incorrectly detected as ethyl alcohol. (See David Hanson, Ph.D., Breath Analyzer Accuracy, at As a result, false positives can occur for a plethora of reasons.
Body chemistry is one factor that can lead to false positives. People with diabetes, acid reflux disease, or some cancers can fail Breathalyzer tests even if their bloodstreams are perfectly free of alcohol. Diabetics, for example, have extraordinarily high levels of acetone, a substance that some breath machines mistake for ethyl alcohol.
Police recognize that regurgitation can render unreliable the results of a Breathalyzer. Thus, most departments require that the arresting officer observe the subject of a breath test for a period of time prior to administerting the test. In California, police should watch the suspect for at least fifteen minutes to make sure he or she did not burp, hiccup or regurgitate prior to applying the test. Regurgitation includes any instance of fluids or gases that rise through the esophagus.
In 2004, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled inadmissible the results of a breath test where the defendant presented evidence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In People v. Bonutti, 817 N.E.2d 489 (Ill. 2004), the defendant had blown a BAC of 0.174 after being stopped and showing outward signs of intoxication. Defendants motion to suppress the Breathalyzer evidence was granted because the court found that the results could have been compromised by a silent, unobservable episode of reflux.
Two years ago, when I attended the Intox 8000 Certification seminar in New Orleans (the San Diego Police Department had just implemented the machine), I was able to get a Fort Lauderdale judge who was acting as a guinney pig for us to blow a .20 breath alcohol level using the Intox 8000 machine. His true blood alcohol level at the time was .02 (he had one drink in him). I got the machine to measure a breath alcohol concentration of ten times the actual true blood alcohol level. How? I just manipulated the machine and the judge's breathing techniques.
If you think I can do this, imagine the flawed results an inexperienced cop might use against you?

DUI Deputy May Have Wrongly Jailed Dozens

TAMPA - Daniel Brock won high praise for jailing impaired motorists. Mothers Against Drunk Driving honored him. So did his bosses. But one of Hillsborough County’s most aggressive DUI deputies may have wrongly sent dozens of people to jail, the Sheriff’s Office acknowledged on Thursday, June 14, 2007.
The agency fired Brock on May 24th. In one year, Brock arrested 58 people whose blood-alcohol content was below 0.08, the level at which state law presumes a driver is impaired, an internal affairs audit showed. “I don’t prescribe to the theory that somehow you have to be 0.08 to be drunk or impaired, ” Brock, 38, told investigators. (Editor Note: I bet he “prescribes” to the theory that somehow everyone is impaired or too drunk to drive at .08)
A driver may be charged with DUI in Florida if the blood-alcohol level is between 0.05 and 0.08 percent, but there must be other evidence of impairment, such as a swerving vehicle. In 43 of those 58 cases, motorists demonstrated no visible impairment behind the wheel, according to an internal affairs report made public Thursday. In 41 arrests, Brock also failed to make a case with urine samples, the report states.
Repeatedly, investigators found Brock reported failures in field sobriety tests when his patrol car video camera documented the opposite. He wrote, for instance, that a driver on Oct. 25, 2005, lost balance while turning. The video of the encounter showed that wasn’t the case. The driver blew a 0.01 in the breath test but was arrested anyway. He said drivers incorrectly recited the alphabet, used arms for balance and slurred speech - when the video showed correct alphabets, perfect balance and clear speech.
Records show he pulled people over on DUI stops 17 times while his cruiser was occupied with other prisoners. That’s against procedure. He routinely filed arrest reports days, even weeks, after making an arrest. He told internal affairs Detective Bruce Crumpler that he always reported the results of field sobriety tests based on memory. Wouldn’t that leave room for errors, Crumpler asked? “Well, there’s room for error, ” Brock told Crumpler. “I’ve never had a problem.” (EditorĂ¢€™s Note: Until now his job was not on the line, his liberty was not restrained, and his license was not jeopardized. No wonder he had never had a problem.)
His paperwork became the subject of scorn at the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, where prosecutors said the deputy tarnished his reputation by filing inaccurate arrest reports that lacked important details. “He doesn’t have a very good reputation for being a very good DUI officer that we care to work with, ” prosecutor Jennifer Gabbard told Crumpler. “It’s almost like whatever you can do to make it look like you’re arresting people.”
From October 2005 to October 2006, Brock made 313 arrests for driving under the influence. He failed to activate his cruiser’s audio and video equipment in 40 percent of his stops, instead relying on his “wrought memory” to recall important arrest details, the audit showed. Within the Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Brock previously had been praised for his “outstanding professional service” and was consistently recommended for raises. His superiors rated his performance “satisfactory” and called him a credit to the office. He was lauded as a dedicated deputy who spoke to high school students about the perils of impaired driving.
“We always felt he was a good officer, ” said Becky Gage, 55, the victim advocate for Hillsborough’s MADD chapter. “As long as officers are within the scope of the law, then we support their efforts to remove impaired drivers.” (Editors Note: MADDs leadership embraces a “zero tolerance” standard for everyone, so they believe a person who drank one beer at a ball game should be arrested.)
However, the former deputy encountered a few bumps in the road. He was suspended and sent to driving school in 2000 after a string of what the Sheriff’s Office deemed avoidable traffic accidents. In 2006, he was named in a federal lawsuit alleging that he physically attacked the mother of a teenage boy he arrested in 2002. The Hillsborough County woman said Brock forced himself into her home, pushed her into a corner and sprayed her with pepper spray. The lawsuit is unresolved.
During the recent internal affairs investigation, Brock denied trying to boost numbers for personal recognition. It was unclear Thursday whether Brock intends to appeal his firing. He told investigators that given the chance, he would conduct his DUI stops the same way. Said Brock: “I mean, perfect world, we need more deputies and fewer people.”

Could your blood inflate your blood alcohol level?

Your hematocrit level is the ratio of aqueous portions and solid portions of your blood. When alcohol enters your bloodstream it is carried in the plasma (liquid portion). Alcohol does not get absorbed into the red blood cells and other solid material in your blood Someone with a higher hematocrit level will have more solid parts in their blood and therefore will have less space for the alcohol to disperse in the liquid portion of the blood. Normal hematocrit differences can elevate a BAC by 10% to 14%.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How To Avoid a DUI Arrest This Summer.

Law enforcement will step up DUI enforcement over the summer. Law enforcement will really step it up over the holidays, starting with Memorial Day weekend, and simmering down after Labor Day. It's starting now. Memorize these tips. They may come in handy over the holidays.

1. If you drive during the summer holidays, and you plan on having a cocktail or two, make sure you know where your license, registration and proof of insurance are. Police historically write in their DUI reports (putting only facts that harm you in them) that the suspect "fumbled for his wallet" and couldn't find his registration. They use this to try to show you were impaired. Be prepared.

2. When you get signaled by the officer to pull over by the officer for a DUI assessment, do so immediately and safely. Roll down your window and put your hands on the steering wheel.

3. If an officer asks you if you know why you are being pulled over, remember you don't have to answer. What a dumb question! He knows why he is pulling you over. He is pulling you over to assess you for drunk driving, and he's using the fact that you might have committed some minor vehicle code violations as an excuse. Don't make any admissions to him. So, you can just ask him, "why?"

4. The next question the officer is likely to ask is, "Have you had anything to drink tonight." Remember your rights? You are not required to speak to officers. I know, I know, you think, "But if I don't talk to the officer, he will be mad." Let him be. You are not at a social gathering; he is not invited to your New Year's day party. So don't worry about how he feels. He is collecting evidence against you. Don't give him any. It is best to say, "Officer, I appreciate what you do for a living, but I don't wish to answer any of your questions." You do NOT have to answer. The less from you he gets, the better for you in the long run. He is gathering evidence. But, you say, maybe he will let me go if he knows I'm being honest with him. NO. Most people who are pulled over and have alcohol on their breath get arrested. It's just a fact of life. Don't give him anything to put in that report that he can use against you later.

5. He may then say, "I'd like you to complete a series of tests for me." Again, let him know that you do not wish to participate in any tests. You are not required to comply. Officers try to give a series of field tests to determine if you are impaired. I have NEVER known any officer to do these as per the standardized protocol. I hold a certification authorized by the United Stated Department of Transportation to administer these tests, and was required to pass a practical and written test to get that certification given by a nationally known sergeant with the Idaho State Police. Cops learn how to do these, and then promptly forget them, making up their own "tests." Do not do them. Do NOT let the officer collect more false "evidence" against you. Just reiterate that you do not wish to perform and tests. It's your right.

6. The DUI investigation officer may then tell you he wants you to take an in field breath, hand held, breath test. Do not take this "test." It is unreliable, and regularly exhibits blood alcohol numbers higher than what you really are. The cop really, really wants you to do this now, because you have made no statements, and you have refused his field "tests." He wants this badly. He NEEDS some evidence. Do not do it. You are NOT required to blow into the little hand held machine.

7. The officer will most likely arrest you, cuff and take you downtown. You will be required to take a breath or blood test. You must choose to take one of these tests, or he will take what is called a "forced blood test" and your driver's license will be suspended for a 90 days or more.

A few pointers: If you are still absorbing alcohol, the breath test will read high. It is also an INDIRECT measurement of blood alcohol level. If you take blood, you won't get a result for at least a week. Also, SDPD and Sheriff's don't use the proper amount of sodium fluoride and potassium oxalate in the blood tubes, so you can attack those results later. Personally, I wouldn't let anyone hired by the city or county to draw my blood, after learning all I know about the incompetence of the people drawing the blood, and the lack of sanitations protocol in place. Why risk infection?
If you are arrested, you will be released within 12 hours on your promise to appear. You will received a yellow piece of paper called a "AST 60)." This document tells you that you, or your lawyer, must call the Department of Public Safety within ten days of the arrest to secure a hearing to determine whether or not the DPS will take your license. Do not miss this deadline or you will be suspended automatically.

So, be careful. Don't drink and drive if you can help it. Drive safely. Don't talk to cops. Be polite, but do not let them gather inculpatory evidence against you. If you get arrested call Polson & Robbins. 205 252-7000