This is an illogical decision (or non-decision). An individual is entitled to a defense when charged. The machine allegedly can tell how much alcohol in running in a persons blood system based on a puff of air. This science can and does have flaws. It is interesting that a group of judges can basically say a machines reading is gospel and the science cannot be disputed. Let me repeat….people with LEGAL background are saying the SCIENCE of a machine cannot be disputed and it is the gospel.
Most attorneys will tell you to take the blood test. I have seen that most persons when arrested choose the breath test. At the time it seems the easier choice. It is the worst choice for several reasons.
The ruling does not change much. A San Diego DUI case is more about human error than machine error. the ruling is just another way the courts are helping curb the individual rights. People should be afforded the defense they choose. If someone wants to claim the earth is flat….well than good luck with that. It is sad for people to believe the jury can be fooled with “earth is flat”. I guess I give more credits to juries. It is funny that someone believes a machine that can measure blood content from a puff of air is akin to “the earth is flat”.
When the Supreme Court of the United States opted not to take-up the appeal of a California case this week, the court removed one tactic used by attorneys to defend their clients against drunk driving charges.
A defense attorney can no longer argue against the broad use of breathalyzer tests in court. That ruling was first made by the California Supreme Court in Vangelder v. California, and the state ruling will stand because the Supreme Court rejected a request to review the state case.
San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith compared the arguments against breathalyzer tests to arguments that “the Earth is flat.”
“[Attorneys] can challenge the particular machine, but they can’t challenge the science behind the machine,” Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith said he’s seen too many instances of defense attorneys employing shaky expert testimony in drunk driving cases.
“Jurors are sitting there thinking, ‘Well, this expert sounds like he knows what he’s doing… so maybe the Earth really is flat?’” Goldsmith said, “So you have the risk of confusing the jurors.”
Still, the city attorney says when drunk driving charges do make it to a courtroom in San Diego County, more than 99 percent of defendants are found guilty.
However, well-known D.U.I. attorney Cole Casey said he isn’t worried about the ruling’s impact on his ability to defend his clients.
“It doesn’t really change the landscape that much,” Casey told San Diego 6. “It just takes away one tactic that some attorneys would use to say, ‘just generally, you can’t trust breath testing.’”
Casey said he prefers his clients’ defense to rely on more substantial evidence like blood testing “simply because it gives me something to hold on to. I can then have that blood retested by a private laboratory. A breath test? I can’t do that. I have to take a piece of paper from a machine and hope that it’s accurate.”
In Casey’s opinion, a second Supreme Court decision from Wednesday will have an even bigger impact on arrests for drunk driving or any other charge.
Casey said the ruling to require police officers to obtain a warrant before searching an arrestee’s cell phone is pivotal.
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