The results of a polygraph or “lie detector” examination are normally not admissible in Florida courtrooms. If the results from this machine were admissible as evidence, this would circumvent the responsibility of a jury who is charged with the duty of assessing witness credibility and deciding the guilt or innocence of the accused.
The Intoxilyzer... Trial by Machine?
The results of a polygraph machine may not be admissible in court, but the results of an Intoxilyzer machine are routinely introduced as lawful evidence by Pinellas County prosecutors. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge reads Jury Instruction 28.1 to the members of the jury panel who have previously been sworn to follow the law:
“If you find from the evidence that while driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, the defendant had a blood or breath-alcohol level of .08 or more, that evidence would be sufficient by itself to establish that the defendant was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired. But this evidence may be contradicted or rebutted by other evidence demonstrating that the defendant was not under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that [his] [her] normal faculties were impaired.”
This jury instruction is premised on Florida Statute 316.1934(2)(C) which states:
“If there was at that time a blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher, that fact is prima facie evidence that the person was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired. Moreover, such person who has a blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is guilty of driving, or being in actual physical control of, a motor vehicle, with an unlawful blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level.”
The evidentiary weight given to breath test readings in Florida carries a “presumption of impairment.” One legal scholar adeptly recognizes that “Human witnesses now often give way to gadgets and interpretive software, juries’ complex judgments about moral blameworthiness give way to mechanical proxies for criminality, and judges’ complex judgments give way to sentencing guidelines and actuarial instruments.” Andrea L. Roth Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 104, No.5. 2016.
If you have been arrested for DUI in St. Petersburg, Clearwater or other city within Pinellas County, it is imperative that you have experienced legal counsel carefully and systematically review every aspect of the breath testing process. This includes, but is not limited to, scrutinizing the calibration, ascertaining substantial compliance with the testing protocol and examining the licensing credentials of those individuals involved in the maintenance and operation of the machine. See: Can We Keep Your Breath Test Results Out of Court?
Your Right to Challenge the Breath Test Results
“Over the years, the public’s perception of drunk driving has evolved. What the public once viewed as a common indiscretion it now views as a serious crime and public health hazard. The state’s drunk driving statutes now are enforced rigorously, prosecuted zealously, and provide for substantial punishments. This is proper. It is also proper however,that we remain vigilant in safeguarding the rights of individuals, and ensure that those accused of serious crimes such as DUI have the aid of the process necessary for them to defend against such charges.” Dennis Snyder v. State of Alaska
Florida’s Implied Consent Law requires a driver arrested for DUI to submit to Intoxilyzer testing or suffer an administrative driver license suspension. However, a burden is also placed upon the prosecution to show that law enforcement has complied with a multitude of rules and regulations associated with FDLE and agency inspection, calibration and operation of the machine. Inclusive is the proper certification of those persons responsible for its care and accuracy.
The three criminal defense attorneys in our office are well acquainted with the various statutory and administrative laws associated with Intoxilyzer breath testing in Florida. You can recognize the passion we have in this area of the law by visiting our Breath Test Museum. Through our careful review of documentation in your case, we can look for non compliance, irregularities and machine repairs that could result in the disqualification of your breath test results.
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See Our Extensive Pinellas DUI Website
Should I hire a Lawyer for a First Time DUI?
The Decision – Blow or Refuse the Intoxilyzer?
Florida DUI Penalties
Evaluating the Strengths & Weaknesses of Your DUI Case
How to Get a DUI Reduced
Locating the Best DUI Lawyer in Clearwater / St. Pete