If you were arrested for driving under the influence in Olive Branch or Southaven, MS and submitted to a breath test for blood alcohol content (BAC), you may be charged under the state’s “per se” law.  This law says that you can be convicted just on the level of your BAC, and that no proof of actual impairment needs to be shown.

The per se law requires a BAC of .08 for adult non-commercial drivers (it is .02 for minors).  If you submit to a breath test to measure your BAC, it will be done on a machine called a breathalyzer.  Fully describing the operation of a breathalyzer would be too much material for this brief article, but essentially the way it works is that you blow into the machine and it takes a reading of the amount of alcohol in your breath sample using infrared light.  This sample, at least in theory, will approximate the level of alcohol in your blood.

The problem with breathalyzers is that it only gives you a snapshot, or a sample.  It may not be an accurate measurement of the driver’s entire blood alcohol content.   To get that number the machine has to make a series of calculations and assumptions.  These may not always be correct, and the State does not have to prove their accuracy.  The State only has to prove that the machine was in proper working order, that it was maintained properly, and that the test was conducted in a proper fashion.  However, there could be mistakes in the breathalyzer’s measurements that show the sample taken was not an exact reproduction of your physiologic state.  In other words, you could have gotten an inaccurate reading.

If you’ve been charged with DUI in Mississippi because of a breathalyzer test, do not automatically assume the machine is right.  Contact Olive Branch DUI attorney Patrick Stegall to see what options you have.  You may be able to successfully challenge the state’s evidence, and keep both your license and your freedom.  Mr. Stegall can be reached at (901) 205-9894 or by email at pstegall@stegall-law.com.

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