Supreme Court Says No to Challenge of DUI Machines
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late June that machines used to test the blood alcohol content of drivers in California were reliable and the results from these machines would stand up in court.
California man, Terry Vangelder, was detained by police after driving at speeds of over 125 miles per hour in December of 2007. He claimed that after giving the police permission to administer the breathalyzer test and testing at .095 and .086 percent, that the machine was flawed and did not accurately test is actual blood alcohol content. The current Blood Alcohol limit in California is .08 percent. Mr. Vangelder, on both tests administered, failed to meet the minimum requirement.
The defense wanted to bring forth scientists who claimed that these machines do not actually test the blood alcohol content of drivers. Factors such as air coming from the top part of the lungs and not the air deep in the lungs and rapid breathing rates skew test results and show that all of the machines are inherently flawed. Michael Hlastala, a professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Washington was ready to testify to the defendants claims.
Had the defendant wished to show that the particular machine used during his test was malfunctioning or defective in some way, then he would have been granted permission to give his evidence.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that since the devices used in the state had been studied by the state Legislature and certified by the Department of Transportation, then his claim that all of the machines were flawed his request was denied.
Mr. Vangelder was found guilty of excessive speeding and driving under the influence. He was ultimately fined $2000. Charles Sevilla, Mr. Vangelder’s attorney, stated that he was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear their claim and that the California court system was “unduly trusting in the infallibility of government testing of these machines.”
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