Being charged with a DUI can impact an individual financially as well as jeopardize his or her driving privileges. There are a number of defenses available in a DUI case that may reduce a charge or result in an acquittal. A recent case, which the defendant ultimately lost, helps illustrate one of those defenses. The New York State appellate division ruled on a case where a defendant was arrested for driving under the influence. The defendant was taken to the police station where the arresting officer and two other experienced officers witnessed a Breathalyzer test and an additional 13-step procedure. One officer administered the Breathalyzer test, along with the 13-step procedure, while another officer videoed the events.
The first two Breathalyzer attempts resulted in two errors. On the third attempt, the defendant’s blood alcohol level (BAL) registered at 0.25. The officer who performed the Breathalyzer and additional 13-step procedure retired from the police department and was unavailable to testify. Due to this, the police officer that documented the testing through video was called to testify in court where he indicated that he believed the defendant was under the influence of alcohol. In the case, the 13-step procedure checklist was not offered into evidence. However, the jury found the defendant guilty of driving while under the influence. The defendant appealed the conviction.
The lower appellate court found that the defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights were violated. The court reversed the conviction, based on the fact that the retired officer was unable to testify at trial and the other officer being unable to testify about the Breathalyzer machine’s error because he didn’t personally observe it during the actual test. Furthermore, the court noted that testimony by a witness against a defendant is inadmissible unless the person offering the testimony appears at the criminal trial, or if a defendant was able to previously cross-examine the person. The prosecution appealed.
The second department applied case precedent interpreting the Confrontation Clause. The court found that the defendant’s rights were not violated. The court reasoned that the testifying officer witnessed the breathalyzer test and was present the entire time. The officer had experience and was trained on how to understand and operate the mechanism. In addition, the officer testified that due to his experience and training, he was able to recognize whether the mechanism was functioning properly. Furthermore, the testifying officer had sufficient time to observe the defendant.
An experienced Long Island DUI/DWI lawyer can help minimize the impact that a DUI/DWI charge can have on your life. The Long Island DWI lawyers at McGuire, Peláez & Bennett P.C. are experienced in handling these cases and will fight vigorously on your behalf. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact our Suffolk County DUI lawyers at 631-348-1702.