DUI Ruling Overturned by Appellate Court
The Arizona Court of Appeals has overturned an earlier ruling from a county superior court to toss breathalyzer test results on the basis of faulty equipment and questionable lab practices.
Our D.C. DUI defense lawyers were disappointed with the latest ruling in Arizona v. Tohannie. It was a matter that concerned 11 defendants in the Scottsdale region of the state. However, it may still have the potential for a greater impact if the defense challenges to these issues are further appealed or similarly argued by attorneys in other jurisdictions.
According to court records, these defendants each brought a series of the same issues before the court in the course of their DUI defense. Central to all of these claims was the validity of results a certain instrument, known as the Clarus 500. This machine processes biological evidence (specifically, blood) in order for use in DUI prosecutions.
These cases were consolidated, and over the course of four months, the court held a series of hearings to determine whether the scientific evidence met the Daubert standards. This is a standard stemming from the case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals in 1993. It lays forth guidelines for determining whether certain expert scientific testimony or evidence should be admitted.
Among the guidelines established:
- The judge must determine that, more likely than not, the evidence is both relevant and reliable.
- In order to qualify as scientific knowledge, it has to be based upon sound scientific methodology.
- In determining what is sound scientific methodology, the judge can look at the presence (or absence) of empirical testing, peer review and publication, known or potential error rates, existence and maintenance of standards and controls in operation and the degree to which the relevant scientific community generally accepts the theory or technique.