In December of 2007, Terry Vangelder was stopped by a patrolman in San Diego County after driving his pickup truck at the dangerous speed of 125mph. With Vangelder’s consent, the patrolman tested his blood alcohol content. The results suggested that Vangelder was driving with a blood alcohol content of .095 percent. Administering a second test, the results showed Vangelder at .086 percent – just .006 over legal limit.

Cases like these occur all the time, making many question the reliability of DUI machines. One California motorist expressed his concerns for the machines, and at the end of last Month the Supreme Court answered – with rejection.

Backing up the state of California, the Supreme Court refused to hear Vangelder’s trial, inadvertently asserting the State Court ruling correct. The Supreme Court determined that the blood alcohol machines used in California are accurate, and will continue to be used to illustrate a person’s blood alcohol content. As the machines have been studied by legislature and have been certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Supreme Court believes this is enough evidence to support the machines dependability. Because of this conclusion, the defense is unable to present any testimony from a scientist that suggests differently. This ruling is a huge blow to the defense’s argument.

Though the defense was unable to prove that the machine is defective in design, the Supreme Court will allow a defendant to try to show that a particular machine was defective or improperly used when the test was administered.

During Vangelder’s trial, Michael Hlastala, a professor of medicine and physiology at University of Washington, testified in Vangelder’s favor. Through studies, Hlastala stated that breath-testing machines are unpredictable because of the breathing patterns of a person. Blood content machines test the content of exhaled air. If a person has a heavier/lighter breathing pattern, the machine may read their blood alcohol content much differently. These variables make it difficult to accurately test the air that is deep in a person’s lungs and what’s closer to the bloodstream.

Unfortunately for Vangelder, the Supreme Court refused to take up the case. The trial judge believed Hlastala’s testimony to be speculative, and Vangelder was fined close to $2,000.

If you have been in a similar situation, and feel that the machine used to test your blood alcohol content was either defective or used improperly, do not hesitate to seek the legal advice you deserve. Call the Law Offices of J. Samuel Worley for a free consultation: 312-953-LAW1  


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