What we’ve learned is that a number of D.C. bars are going to be purchasing breathalyzer tests that patrons can pay to take before leaving the bar. What we understand is that the general cost is going to be about $1.
This is a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, many Washington D.C. DUI attorneys believe there is absolutely value in knowing what your blood alcohol level is before you even walk out the door.
On the other hand, will this be information that could be used against you in a D.C. DUI case? That’s a question that hasn’t been addressed by local media covering the story. As the whole idea is relatively new, we won’t know for sure until these cases start trickling in to court.
The plan was hatched by a drunk driver who lost his best friend in a fatal crash in 2006. The two had been out partying that night, and were on their way home when the driver crashed. The driver was in an induced coma for several days, but his friend did not survive.
He now says he wants to give bar patrons the power to make better decisions. This strikes to the heart of some DUI cases because in many cases, the more intoxicated you are, the less you realize how intoxicated you are. In other words, you likely aren’t a very good judge of your own level of intoxication.
Drunk driving crashes resulted in 30 percent of fatal accidents and the deaths of about 370 people in Maryland and Virginia last year. Efforts at prevention are laudable.
However, there may be underlying legal issues here. First, there’s the question of whether such readings might be used in a court of law. For example, if your blood alcohol reading is above the 0.08 limit and you choose to get behind a wheel anyway, will that increase your liability? Will there be witnesses at the bar?
Secondly, given the issues that the Washington D.C. Metro Police Department has had with the accuracy of breathalyzer machines, how can a patron be ensured of its accuracy?
As you may remember, the district has been reeling after some 300 drivers were convicted of DWIs between 2008 and 2011 – all on the basis of faulty breathalyzer results. This was after a number of these defendants served time in jail. This has forced the city to abandon for now use of the machines until they can be re-calibrated. And in fact, some of these inaccurate readings may stretch back as many as 10 years – creating a legal quagmire for city officials and prosecutors.
But with breathalyzers in bars, if a bar patron is assured by the breathalyzer test that his or her blood alcohol is below the limit – and yet the reading is inaccurate – who is responsible?
If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights or fill out our online contact form. Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards accepted. Call 202-765-3175.