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Prosecutors use the results of breath or blood analyses to determine the level of intoxication of an individual who has been charged with the offense of driving under the influence. In Los Angeles, driving under the influence results in drivers being charged with two DUI offenses that violate the laws of the California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC and California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC.
Breath and blood tests are problematic because the driver’s level of alcohol tolerance is not taken into consideration. Scientific studies have determined that the numbers produced by these tests do not provide sufficient information about how intoxicated the individual actually is.
In one study, individuals with a history of abusing alcohol were tested after consuming large quantities of alcohol. The results determined that there was no correlation between the perceived level of intoxication and the individual’s blood alcohol content. Other research reveals that chronic alcohol users can tolerate BAC levels that could be deadly for an ordinary individual. Chronic alcohol users can tolerate these levels while demonstrating minimal to no signs of impairment while doing so. Therefore, based on various studies, it can be determined that every individual’s alcohol tolerance is different and should be taken into consideration when addressing impairment.
Furthermore, scientific research shows that alcohol tolerance is also affected by specific genetic components, in addition to the frequency of an individual’s alcohol consumption. Given this, there are situations where an individual may seem highly intoxicated but their blood alcohol content levels do not exceed 0.08 percent.
Multiple studies expose the severity of heavy alcohol consumption and how heavy drinkers vary drastically from normal expectations set for behavior based on BAC. For instance, studies show that in most cases individual’s with BACs of .30 or higher begin to enter into a comatose state, while BACs greater than .40 can be fatal. Individuals who abused alcohol or had a history of doing so were able to remain conscious in spite of having BAC levels of .70 or higher.
The research on alcohol tolerance reveals that the BAC is an insufficient way of measuring an individual’s degree of impairment. Implications of these results are problematic because many times the prosecutor may make an attempt to increase DUI penalties for defendants who had a BAC of .15 or .20 at the time of the offense.
Given the “per se” DUI statute that California has adopted, the defendant is made criminally liable if his or her BAC is found to be greater than 0.08 percent. The “per se” statute disregards the driver’s level of tolerance and focuses directly on the results of a breath or blood analysis.
There are several ways that the results of breath or blood tests can be challenged. Often times, the prosecutor has to be able to identify other indications of intoxication, for example performance of field sobriety tests or driving conduct, to be able to convict the individual of a DUI offense. In some cases, testing devices malfunction, requiring the prosecutor to prove intoxication without any evidence of the defendant’s BAC. These cases allow alcohol tolerance and other factors to be considered in determining whether the individual actually demonstrated impairment or not.
If you have been charged with a DUI offense, then it is of high priority that you speak with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney about your case. Los Angeles DUI Attorneys can provide consultation to those accused of driving under the influence and provide the best defense for these individuals in court.