“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” – Buddha
We all rely on machines every day to be accurate. If they’re in use, they must be right… right? They help us run our lives, make sense of our world, and, because of their importance and perceived infallibility, have naturally been invested with a lot of faith and trust by us. But when is that faith and trust truly justified and when is it nothing more than, well, pixie dust?
Ventura County is discovering that some of our much-lauded machines used to test people arrested for DUI in Ventura County are, in fact, faulty. In Ventura County, eight Alco-Sensor V-XL machines have thus far been proven to be inaccurate within a set time-frame, even when perfectly operated by the individual officers. But, if some of the Alco-Sensor V-XL machines are now known to be defective, why would we continue to believe the others and what would it take to shake our faith in the infallibility of what is presented to us as fact? There were approximately 128 of the Alco-Sensor V machines in use in Ventura County DUI cases before they were pulled by local law enforcement. The problem, according to local law enforcement, is a defective mouthpiece that results in “irregular readings”. Ventura authorities think this defect can be fixed so that the Alco-Sensor V machines can be returned to the field.
Other counties that have confronted this issue of defective test results from their Alco Sensor Vs have been more cautious and far-reaching in their investigation and recall. The Santa Clara County D.A.’s office is currently reviewing 865 DUI convictions after the accuracy of their machines was called into question. The recognized defect is described as a manufacturing defect that causes condensation to build up in the machine’s tube, leading to “erratic” or faulty results. In Santa Clara County, the D.A.’s office has set up a special unit to review DUI’s and dismiss the cases where the convictions were not “fair and just”, according to the D.A. there.
But what if you are here in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County? What if you suffered a DUI conviction that was based on a test result that you still believe was WRONG? If you have a question about your DUI where the Alco-Sensor V-XL machine was used, we are here to help. We retain a forensic toxicology expert to fully review all the calibration, maintenance and performance records on the individual machine at issue in your case. The same expert is available to physically inspect the machine and to compare its records to those obtained from the machines that are now known to have been defective. After a full investigation of your machine and test result, as well as an analysis of the other important factors that shed light on your case (including alleged driving pattern, officer observations, information obtained from you, and field sobriety test results), you will have the answers you seek. If our investigation exposes a defect in your machine and, in combination with other factors, gives us the green light in your case, you will have the justice that was denied you the first time around.
Even in a case where the machine is operating perfectly, there are a number of defense areas to pursue – from driving pattern issues, to an attack on the officer’s alleged observations, to exploring drinking pattern issues, to the subjectivity and limitations of field sobriety tests, and finally to the limitations inherent in the breath and blood tests themselves. Although field sobriety exercises are presented as scientific “tests”, they are in fact highly subjective and open to interpretation by individual officers. Similarly, a number of problems can mar the perceived reliability of both breath and blood tests as accurate indicators of a client’s blood alcohol level at the time of driving – from drinking pattern issues, to machine margin for error, to potential sample contamination.
Even cases that at first seem almost unwinnable can be won by an attorney who is willing to go the extra mile to expose and argue all the areas of reasonable doubt in your case. For example, in an alleged DUI with a .11/.12 blood alcohol content and an accident, I was able to get a hung jury in favor of the defense at trial and the subsequent dismissal of all charges against my client. In that case, my client was a long-distance truck driver whose livelihood would have been endangered by a conviction for DUI. In that case, I was able to successfully explain drinking pattern issues, use our forensic toxicology expert to make sense of the scientific evidence for the jury, and, through a thorough investigation which revealed a witness, overcome the prosecution’s contention that only an impaired driving could have gotten into such an accident. I was also able to convincingly explain the limitations and weaknesses of the officer’s investigation and the field sobriety tests.
Click here for more information about your DUI in Ventura County
Sometimes it is good to question things. Sometimes by questioning we actually get at the truth or come closer to justice. Where we now have a definite reason to question because we know that the machines have been proven wrong, it is the right thing to do. If you want an attorney in your corner who actually believes that the machine could be wrong and you could be right and who will follow your investigation as far as it leads, call the Law Office of Jennifer Zide today or visit our website at www.Zidelaw.com. We will get you justice… not just pixie dust. Sincerely, Jennifer Zide (805) 477-0327
By Criminal Defense Attorney Jennifer Zide
ph: (805) 477-0327/ 477-8024