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Knowing the Admissibility of DUI Test Results

July 09, 2014

Knowing the Admissibility of DUI Test Results

DUI Test Admissibility

A motorist suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol in Tennessee will likely be asked to submit to blood alcohol test to determine if their blood alcohol level registers at .08 or greater.

When Are DUI Test Results Inadmissible?

More than twenty years ago, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in State v. Sensing that six elements must be proved before the admission of a breath alcohol test.  One of those requirements is that the State prove that the motorist was observed for the requisite 20 minutes prior to the test, and during such period, the person did not have foreign matter in his mouth, did not consume any alcoholic beverage, smoke or regurgitate.

In the recent case of State v. Schafer, the trial court heard shuffling papers on the video depicting the twenty minute observation period. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals held that fact, in combination with the officer’s testimony that he shifted things in his lap on multiple occasions and his testimony that he shifted his gaze between the video screen and the Defendant during the observational period, supported the trial court’s finding that the officer was likely performing other tasks or was otherwise distracted, and may have missed the very functions that he was charged with observing. The court therefore upheld the suppression of the results of such test.

If you have been charged with a DUI, have further questions about the admissibility of DUI test results, or other possible challenges to a DUI conviction, please contact us.