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Stamford, CT DUI lawyerEach year, there are approximately 12,000 people killed in drunk driving accidents. Hundreds of thousands more are left with serious injuries. According to national statistics, one in three fatal car accidents involves a drunk driver. This has led the National Transportation Safety Board  (NTSB) to recommend that all new vehicles be required to have an alcohol impairment detection system.

NTSB Recommendations

In its announcement, the NTSB listed several measures that would work to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel of their vehicles. They recommend that all passenger vehicles should have vehicle-integrated alcohol impairment detection systems, advanced driver monitoring systems, or a combination of both of these systems that would be able to prevent a driver from operating the vehicle if the system detects the driver is under the influence of alcohol.

Part of their recommendation was having the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  (NHTSA) require all new vehicles to be equipped with these systems. It is likely that under the NHTSA’s recommendation that this will eventually become law within the next 10 years or so.  

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Stamford, CT DUI attorneyOne of the important aspects of a drunk driving charge is the results of a breathalyzer test. These breath testing devices are small, hand-held devices that law enforcement uses to measure the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the person taking the test. The BAC is the percentage of ethanol or ethyl alcohol in the person’s blood. For example, if a person has a BAC of 0.08 percent, that means that for every 800 parts of blood, there is one part of alcohol. Under Connecticut law, a person is considered legally intoxicated if their BAC measures 0.08 percent or above.

Although law enforcement deems these devices critical to their case against someone with a DUI charge, many people do not realize just how unreliable these tests actually are and how easy it is for test results to be thrown off if certain factors exist.

Types of Breath Tests

There are three major types of breath tests that a police officer may use during a DUI stop. All three measure the BAC present in the individual’s lungs; however, each device does it in a different manner:

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Stamford, CT DUI defense lawyerNovember’s arrival means that the winter holidays are just around the corner. Holidays usually mean get-togethers with family and friends, holiday parties, and socializing. It also means that police departments across the state will be out in full force, cracking down on drunk drivers.

One tool available to law enforcement is the sobriety checkpoint. This is where police put up a barricade in the road so that drivers will have to stop and engage with officers for a few minutes. If an officer suspects a driver has been drinking, he or she can request the driver submit to a breathalyzer test, field sobriety tests, or other testing to determine if their blood alcohol concentration is over 0.08 percent, the legal limit in Connecticut.

Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal?

Some drivers question whether or not police have the legal right to conduct sobriety checkpoints. This question was answered in 1990 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Michigan v. Sitz where the court ruled that sobriety checkpoints did not violate the Fourth Amendment against illegal search and seizures. In 1996, the Connecticut Appellate Court ruled these checkpoints are permissible under the law.

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Stamford, CT DUI defense lawyerAnyone who has ever been stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of driving under the influence can likely attest to how intimidating it is, even if you have not had anything to drink. Knowing what your rights are in the event this ever happens to you can go a long way in the actual outcome of your case if you are charged with drunk driving.

Field Sobriety Tests

Under Connecticut’s implied consent law, when a person accepts a driver’s license issued by the state, they are essentially agreeing to submit to a chemical test to determine what their blood alcohol concentration is if they are stopped by police. If you refuse that test, then your driver’s license will be suspended by the state, regardless of what the final outcome of any criminal DUI charges is. If it is your first offense, your license will be suspended for one year. A second offense results in a two-year suspension, and a third or subsequent offense means a loss of license for three years.

Police also use field sobriety tests to determine if a driver is under the influence, but these tests do not fall under the state’s implied consent law and drivers do have the right to refuse to submit to them. In fact, because these tests are so subjective, based on the officer’s personal opinion, it is recommended that a driver politely refuse any suggestion by police to submit to the tests.

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Stamford, CT DUI lawyerMore than one million people are arrested each year for drunk driving. The majority of DUI arrests occur because the driver submits to, and fails, a breathalyzer test. But statistics show that the machines used to administer these tests are often unreliable. False positives occur frequently and thousands of breathalyzer test results are thrown out each year by judges across the country.

There are a variety of reasons why false positives occur, including faulty equipment and operator error. There is also another cause for false positives that many people are unaware of that has to do with the type of diet the person taking the test eats. In fact, one popular diet – the keto diet – can actually create false positives on breathalyzer tests.

Keto Diet Issues

When a person eats according to a keto diet, their body goes into a state in which the body becomes more efficient at burning fat for energy. This process is referred to as “ketosis,” and occurs when someone eats only low-carbohydrate foods that include berries, nuts, fatty fish, lean meats, and fresh greens. If the individual is following a keto diet, their body produces an elevated level of ketones.

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