Posted by the Charleston DUI Attorneys at Anderson & Schuster, Attorneys at Law, LLC. Our Charleston DUI Defense Lawyers help those charged with DUI in Charleston and across South Carolina.
The Ohio Court of Appeals recently overturned a lower court ruling that dismissed a DUI charge based on a general challenge to the reliability of the state's breath testing procedures and equipment used in DUI cases. The Court continues to defend the idea that the breath testing machine and procedures are perfectly accurate because, well, the state says so. Under OH state statutes, the reading of the machine determines guilt in drinking and driving cases, and the burden is on the defendant to prove otherwise.
Justin Miller, the defendant, had been pulled over for speeding on November 24, 2011 and subsequently arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). At trial, Miller's DUI defense attorney demanded that the state prove its breath testing machine was reliable. Prosecutors cited a 1984 court decision, saying any general challenge to the scientific validity of the machine was automatically invalid. The Municipal Court judge sided with Miller's DUI defense lawyer and dismissed the DUI charge when the state failed to produce evidence of reliability. The state appealed the dismissal of the DUI.
The Court essentially ruled that if the state can prove its employees followed the regulations and procedures on the books when administering breath tests, its job was done. A DUI Defendant "may still challenge the accuracy of his specific test results, although he may not challenge the general accuracy of the legislatively determined test procedure as a valid scientific means of determining blood alcohol levels.”
The Court wrote that "when regulations are promulgated pursuant to [Ohio breath testing and DUI law], it must be presumed that the Director of Health acted upon adequate investigation and that the court must defer to the department's authority and not substitute its judgment for that of the Director of Health."
"Because the instrument is presumed to be a reliable breath testing instrument, appellee had the burden to produce evidence that the Intoxilyzer is not reliable," Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice wrote in a concurring opinion. "I write separately to acknowledge that it is the defendant's, not the state's, burden to go forward, once the presumption of reliability has been triggered."