Call Us: 202-630-0939

D.C. DUI Defense Lawyers Must Fully Vet Witnesses

by | Oct 31, 2013

Authorities in two states have launched an investigation into the credentials of a “DUI expert” who testified as a witness on behalf of defendants in numerous trials.

D.C. DUI defense lawyers should always take the time to thoroughly vet any witnesses who take the stand in your case. That includes those testifying in your favor. While any of those who may have been acquitted as a result of this individual’s reportedly flawed testimony likely won’t face any consequences (a retrial would amount to double jeopardy), the fact that his true extent of his professional background could have become an issue during one of these trials would have likely resulted in a profoundly negative outcome for any one of these people on trial.

Now, this individual is looking at possible jail time himself. According to The Patriot News in Pennsylvania, the “expert” testified in numerous DUI trials both there and in Georgia. As an opthamologist, the witness told both judges and juries that he was part of the faculty at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, where law enforcement officers train for standard field sobriety testing.

Had this been a full reflection of the truth, this doctor would have been a very valuable defense witness.

Field sobriety tests are by no means scientific. They are based on theories about how intoxication is manifested in most people. However, they often fail to offer a true reflection of a person’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. They are highly subjected and open to the interpretation of the individual officer who is administering them.

Still, they remain highly regarded among both judges and juries in the determination of guilt in DUI cases. Arguing the invalidity of such tests can prove an uphill battle for many defense lawyers (which is why experience in these cases is so important).

Despite the doctor’s contention that he worked as an instructor for the training center, prosecutors now say that he was never involved in any aspect of sobriety training of officers. Rather, he was a guest lecturer on one occasion, when he was asked to give a presentation on eye injuries.

The doctor had also reportedly claimed that the governor of Georgia invited him to participate in a program called “Drunk Busters,” the goal of which was to review field sobriety training methods. However, Georgia authorities say no such program ever even existed.

The doctor also reportedly testified to defendants’ lung capacity with regard to breathalyzer test results. However, as a doctor whose primary focus is eyes, his knowledge in this area of medicine would have been somewhat limited.

That’s not to say that there aren’t numerous valid challenges that DUI defense lawyers can and should make with regard to field sobriety tests and breathalyzers. However, the witnesses called to testify on your behalf must be fully qualified to do so, or else you risk losing the case.

The doctor may have risked more than that. He is now facing numerous felony perjury charges, which could carry a maximum sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC at 202-765-3175.