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Breath test results or not, drunk driving charges can be pursued

When police officers initiate a traffic stop for suspicion of drunk driving, they will likely do two things: conduct a field sobriety test and ask the driver to submit to a breath test. These two pieces of evidence typically serve as the backbone for a prosecutor's case when pursuing charges for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The general perception of breath tests is that they can provide scientific "proof" of a driver's impairment, essentially creating an iron-clad case for the prosecution. In reality, however, that is simply not true. Not only are the breath-test machines liable to produce erroneous results, but so are the officers who operate them.

Not long ago, an Ohio appeals court threw out breath-test evidence in an ongoing criminal case. Although this particular case didn't take place in South Carolina, it still provides a valuable lesson.

On appeal, the breath-test results from the Ohio case were considered invalid because state officials hadn't released guidelines for police officers to operate the breath-test machine used in prior to arrest. Enforcing this safeguard helps ensure that officers have the training necessary to produce accurate and consistent breath-test results.

Furthermore, the records from the breath test in this case weren't preserved in a way consistent with state law. This was one more flaw in the way law enforcement handled this particular case.

Whenever a person is facing DUI charges, it may be helpful to have the arrest records and breath-test records carefully scrutinized. Of course, this is something that most people couldn't do on their own, but an experienced DUI defense attorney could.

One other crucial not from this case is that Ohio law enforcement still plans on moving forward with the prosecution -- even without the breath-test evidence. This is an instance where officials can still pursue charges without presenting a specific blood-alcohol concentration. Rather, officers will provide testimony about the driver's behavior as evidence.

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