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Beating the Breathalyzer

An experienced DUI defense lawyer can still successfully defend your case even with breathalyzer results above the legal limit. Rhode Island General Laws 31-27-2(c) sets out the requirements the state must adhere to before the breathalyzer results may be admissible at trial. Failure to adhere to these requirements can result in the breathalyzer results being suppressed and thus inadmissible at trial.

  • The defendant consented to taking the test.
  • A true copy of the breath test result was mailed within 72 hours of the test.
  • The test was administered in compliance with the methods and equipment authorized by the Director of the Department of Health.
  • The breathalyzer machine was tested for accuracy within a 30 day period.
  • The breathalyzer operator was certified within 365 days of the test.
  • The defendant was informed of his right to take an additional independent chemical test.
  • The defendant was afforded a reasonable opportunity to exercise this right.

If the breathalyzer results are admitted into evidence, there a several ways of challenging its accuracy. See breathalyzer accuracy for more information.

In State v. Lusi, 625 A.2d 1350 (R.I. 1993), the court held that the defendant is entitled to an acquittal when he successfully rebuts the inference that his blood alcohol content (BAC) was .1 or greater at the time of driving and there was other insufficient evidence presented by the state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. (Since this case the legal BAC limit has been lowered to .08%).