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Did you fail a breath test? Here's how to challenge it.

We have devoted a few blog posts in recent months to discussing implied consent laws in Rhode Island and explaining why submitting to a breath test is in your best interests. However, the reason most people consider refusing a breath test is because they are worried about what the reading will show. So what happens if you take a breath test and fail?

Although breath test results play an important role in the DUI cases, breath test machines are not always reliable sources of information. Either the police officer can do something wrong when administering the test, or the breath test machine itself can malfunction. If it is possible that one or the other is true in your case, the results of the test can be challenged.

Challenging Police Action

Police have to abide by certain rules when arresting someone, just as you are expected to act within the bounds of the law while operating a vehicle. One way to challenge a breath test is to challenge the legality of the traffic stop itself. Did the officer have reasonable suspicion to stop you? Was there probable cause -- or visible evidence -- that you were drunk? If the answer to just one of these questions is "no," the breath test results could be thrown out.

Another way to challenge police conduct is to determine whether the officer was properly trained to administer a breath test. If an officer did not receive comprehensive training, his or her testimony may be considered unreliable.

Finally, you can seek to have the breath test results thrown out if the officer who administered your test does not appear in court. Everyone has the right to cross-examine any witnesses against them. If the officer doesn't show up, you could argue that your rights have been violated.

Challenging The Breath Test Machine

If police conducted themselves according to the law during your arrest, it may be worth considering whether the breath test machine produced an inaccurate reading. By doing some research, and maybe even conducting some tests, it may be possible to show a jury that the breath test machine is not an accurate way to test a person's blood-alcohol level. If readings are not consistent, for example, even though the same person is blowing repeatedly, it may help show that the machine is unreliable.

Finally, breath tests can be challenged if you can prove that the machine you blew into was not calibrated properly -- or not calibrated at all.

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