If you’ve been charged with DUI in Horn Lake, Southaven, Olive Branch, or the rest of North Mississippi, you were asked by the police to take a test to determine your blood alcohol content, basically the amount of alcohol in your system. The police have the right to do this under Mississippi’s implied consent law. If you refused, you were advised that your license would be suspended for 90 days.

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If you took the test, you likely did so on a device called a breathalyzer. Blood testing is becoming more common in DUI cases, but breath is still the most used. The breathalyzer basically works like this: the machine takes a breath sample (this is where you blow into it) and shoots infrared light through it. The light will determine the amount of alcohol molecules in the breath sample by their wavelengths, and based on that the machine produces a number that is (in theory) a percentage of the amount of alcohol in your entire system. As you are probably aware, a reading of .08% or greater blood alcohol content is a legal presumption of being under the influence in Mississippi.

What do you do if you want to challenge your DUI case and the breathalyzer reading? The first thing is to talk to an experienced Desoto County DUI lawyer. If you talk to a lawyer who says that, because you blew .08 or more you should plead guilty, you are not talking to a true DUI defense lawyer. An experienced attorney will be able to evaluate your case from every angle and see which issues can be attacked.

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    There are ways to challenge the breathalyzer’s results. Understand that these machines take only a sample–your breath–and correlate that to your entire blood system. But that’s a big assumption to make based on one sample, and it isn’t always accurate. In other words, the concentration in your breath may not be the same as in your blood. It could be much different.

    Another issue is that there are some substances very similar in chemical structure to an alcohol bond, but do not have the same effects on a person mentally or physically, that absorb light at similar levels. What this means is that you may have non-alcoholic substances in your breath that look like alcohol to the machine. These include acetone, acetaldehyde, and toluene. And these can be absorbed in your system long before you take the test and still be there.

    These are just some of the issues that a Horn Lake DUI lawyer needs to review in breathalyzer cases. Even factors such as body temperature and blood volume (which can depend on age, gender, and smoking history) can affect the reading.

    Patrick Stegall is a DUI attorney in Horn Lake. He represents people throughout North Mississippi in drunk driving cases. If you submitted to a breathalyzer test and are facing a DUI charge, contact Mr. Stegall to see how you might be able to win your case. You can call him at (901) 205-9894 or email him at pstegall@stegall-law.com.

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