Blog

June 2015 - Robert Littlefield Buford III, Attorney at Law

Above the Law?

Posted by | DWI | No Comments
Above the law

Texas law enforcement is taking a hard stance on charging people suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI) across the state, but some recent news shows that some state authorities believe that they are above the law when it comes to DWI. These cases not only highlight the fact that anyone can be arrested for DWI, but they also illustrate what indicators that police look for when determining whether they suspect a person of driving while intoxicated.

Recent Cases of County Official DWIs

Two recent arrests in the Travis County area highlight how some county officials believe that they are above the law when it comes to DWI. In March, a Travis County state district judge was charged with DWI when she and other members of the criminal justice community were coming home from a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live. Judge Gisela Triana was arrested after she was stopped for speeding 47 mph in a 30 mph zone. She failed field sobriety tests at the scene and had an empty bottle of alcohol in the center console. The police report stated that she swayed, stepped off the line, and took the wrong number of steps during her field sobriety tests.

In addition, an Austin police officer was arrested last month for DWI with a BAC of 0.15% or more. Albert Arevalo, 37, was stopped for speeding 91 mph in a 55 mph zone on MoPac Boulevard. Police noted that he smelled strongly of alcohol, swayed, and lost his balance during the field sobriety test. He admitted to drinking six gin and tonics throughout the night and twice blew over the elevated 0.15% BAC limit at 0.178% and 0.163%, respectively.

DWI Indicators

If you have been pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you should know what DWI factors police look for. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) researchers interviewed police officers from across the United States and developed a list of more than 100 driving cues that the authorities use to visually detect people suspected of driving while intoxicated. These predictor cues have been shown to accurately predict that a driver is intoxicated at least 35% of the time.

Before getting pulled over, police will look for problems maintaining the proper lane position, speed and braking problems, vigilance problems, and judgment problems. After a vehicle has been stopped, police look for the following indicators:

  • Difficulty with vehicle control;
  • Difficulty exiting the vehicle;
  • Fumbling with license and registration;
  • Repeating statements or questions;
  • Swaying, unsteadiness, or balance issues;
  • Leaning on the vehicle;
  • Slurred speech;
  • Slow to respond to police;
  • Providing incorrect information or changing answers; and
  • Smell of alcohol emanating from the person or vehicle.

Contact a DUI Defense Attorney

Call the office or contact us today at The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford if you have failed a DWI breath test in Austin. Our experienced Austin DWI attorneys are here to help and defend your rights through the legal process if you have been arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

Are BAC Tests Unreliable to Determine DWI?

Posted by | BAC Tests, DWI | No Comments
DWI breath test

The biggest piece of evidence in any case of driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the results of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test. These are chemical tests that determine a driver’s BAC through their breath, saliva, or blood. Under Texas law, it is illegal for a driver to have a BAC 0.08% or higher. However, BAC tests have come under recent scrutiny and may not be a reliable way to test for DWI.

Types of BAC Tests

In suspected DWI cases, Texas police use two types of BAC tests: a DWI breath test and a DWI blood test. In a DWI breath test, the authorities have a person breathe into a Breathalyzer machine that determines the BAC from the breath and saliva. Typically, an officer will ask a person to submit to a breath test before arrest, but this is voluntary and the driver can legally decline. However, after the arrest an officer can get a warrant that compels the driver to breathe into the machine. In a DWI blood test, the police take a sample of blood to determine a driver’s BAC. This test must be performed at the police station or the hospital and cannot be done on the road. However, an officer can compel a DWI blood test with a warrant.

Why Tests are Unreliable

Breath tests for DWI, performed on the road or in a police station, have been criticized for inaccuracies when determining BAC. False BAC readings from Breathalyzer machines can result from minor technological interference, such as a cell phone signal. In addition, breath tests have been known to misread BAC if there are other substances in the mouth, like blood or vomit, and irregular breathing has misrepresented BAC results, as well. DWI blood tests have also been scrutinized for their flaws in reading the BAC of a suspected drunk driver. People with diabetes or high blood ketones, or those taking cough medicine or herbal supplements have all reported erroneous BAC readings on a DWI blood test. If an alcohol swab is used prior to the blood draw, it can also misrepresent the results. Finally, some blood tests only check the blood serum and not the entire sample. Studies have shown that testing the serum alone can produce BAC results up to 25% higher than testing the whole sample. Beyond technicalities in the tests, there are other reasons why BAC tests are unreliable methods of testing for DWI. These tests do not take into account the alcohol tolerance, age, gender, metabolism, or weight of the individual. They also fail to consider whether the person’s BAC is rising or falling at the time of the test. High stress levels, a person’s emotional state, food, and carbonation can all also affect the results of a DWI test.

Our Firm Can Help

Call us now or contact our office today if you failed a DWI breath test in Austin or had a forced blood draw for DWI. Our experienced defense attorneys at The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford are here to help protect your rights against unreliable DWI tests. Our experience as Austin DWI Attorneys can help with your situation.