Motion to Suppress Breath Test Evidence

breath test evidenceIn Florida, it’s the driver’s responsibility to submit to a breath test if arrested for DUI under penalty of administrative DUI license suspension by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This also means that law enforcement must follow all the laws and guidelines established by the state when performing such testing. 

Defendants in drunken driving cases will need an experienced DUI defense attorney to analyze how law enforcement administered the breathalyzer and if the results are admissible evidence. The discovery process helps to determine the validity of that exam and may reveal an opportunity to file a motion to suppress it entirely. By doing this, prosecutors must prove their case using other evidence that may not clearly demonstrate the driver’s impairment.  

Proper Use of Breath Testing During the Stop

Several key guidelines require strict adherence when a Florida officer stops someone on suspicion of DUI and administers a breath test. These details can dismantle the prosecution’s case against the defendant and possibly have the charges dismissed or reduced. 

Registration and Certification of the Breathalyzer by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement 

To use a breathalyzer device for evidence, Florida mandates registration of all machines used for this purpose. A certificate is issued for each testing device to prove compliance with Florida Administrative Code 11D-8.003(2). Failure to present this certificate opens the opportunity to suppress the blood alcohol content (BAC) results that it obtained.

Breath Test Calibration and Documentation

The State of Florida also demands that law enforcement agencies regularly inspect and calibrate their breath testing equipment at least once a month. These inspections are required under Florida Administrative Code 11D-8.006(1) to document these routine checks, and failure to do so may result in the evidence obtained during a DUI stop as objectionable.  

Samples Must Meet the Minimums

When pulled over for a DUI stop and tested, there are several requirements the officer must meet to get a valid breath test for evidence. 

  • Collect two samples within 15 minutes
  • Samples must have at least 1.1 liters of air
  • Results should fall in a range of .02 grams of alcohol for every 210 liters of air between the two tests

Without accurately performing these crucial steps in testing, the information gained may not hold up to the standards required by the court for evidence.

Breath Test Inspectors Need Appropriate Licensing

Inspectors of breathalyzer devices must have an FDLE Permitting Certificate that complies with Florida Administrative Code 11D-8.002(5) and 11D-8.008(2). These certificates demonstrate an inspector’s ability to perform calibration checks and are only valid for four years before needing renewal. Florida law also sets specific training and certification guidelines for an agency’s breath test inspector under Florida State Statutes Chapters 316, 322, 327. If an inspector’s certificate was not current when running calibrations on a breath test machine later used during a DUI stop, a motion to suppress that evidence could help one’s case.

Breathalyzer Calibration Check Minimums

The authorized inspector for a law enforcement department must follow the calibration check requirements laid out under the Florida Administrative Code 11D-8.002(1). This guideline demands a minimum range of testing that involves multiple testing of three alcohol concentration thresholds. Without minimum testing, one cannot know for sure if the breath test worked correctly or gave accurate results.

FDLE Breath Test Calibration Requirements

The State of Florida also demands that FLDE inspect and calibrate breath testing equipment at least once a year. Florida Administrative Code 11D-8.004(2) demands documentation of these annual checks and not doing so could compromise the prosecution’s evidence against a defendant facing DUI charges. Annual testing requires the performance of 10 tests for each of the three recognized alcohol concentration metrics. 

Deviations in Breathalyzer Calibration 

When a breath testing device undergoes its monthly and/or yearly calibration check, its results must fall within a specific range.  Deviations from these ranges allow a defendant to pursue a motion to suppress breath test evidence and force the prosecution to use less scientific evidence to prove their case. 

Florida Administrative Code 11D-8.002(1) says the below ranges are acceptable for verification of accurate calibration on breathalyzers:

  • .05 alcohol concentration range is .045 – .055
  • .08 alcohol concentration range is .075 – .085
  • .20 alcohol concentration range is .190 – .210

Discovery of Breathalyzer Malfunction or Calibration Issues

Compliance with the state of Florida’s calibration of breath testing equipment and certification of those testing these devices is critical for the prosecution to win its case. If the state attempts to introduce breathalyzer evidence that lacks proof of meeting these standards or demonstrates faulty operation, a defense attorney may convince the court not to allow the introduction of those results. This could lead to dismissal of the case altogether or at least aid in the defendant’s ability to negotiate for a reduced charge.  

Additional Breath Test Defenses

If facing a DUI charge and the breath test you gave fell within all the certification and calibration requirements demanded by Florida law, you still have defense options to help suppress breath test evidence. These could include situations like:

  • Illegal stop
  • Illegal checkpoint
  • Unlawful coercion to blow
  • Bodily function issues that interfere with results like vomiting or recently eating something

Our Orlando DUI Attorneys Are Can Help

Whether you blew under the legal limit or over .08, it’s of critical importance that you have experienced legal guidance from a seasoned DUI attorney. With extensive alcohol-related trial knowledge, your lawyer will know where mistakes occur during a breath test, common equipment issues, and what certifications and calibrations are necessary. These finer details may determine your future livelihood, so don’t gamble on public defenders and contact The Umansky Law Firm right away.

Our experience as former state prosecutors gives us an advantage negotiating for dismissal and reduced sentencing, while our more than 100 years of experience provides us with a breadth of knowledge other legal teams can’t match. We have memberships with the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer and have attorneys who focus specifically in defending against Florida’s harsh DUI laws. Contact our law office today at (407) 228-3838 to receive a free case evaluation and guide on how to deal with your arrest that has information about the Florida DUI criminal process.