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Santa Cruz DUI defense lawyerIf you have never been pulled over for drunk driving and received a breathalyzer test, the technology might seem infallible – it was developed by law enforcement, after all. However, as outlined in the following sections, breathalyzers (and other sobriety testing methods) are anything but foolproof. In fact, there are several everyday items – things that would never lead to actual intoxication – that may cause a false positive on a breathalyzer.

The Complex and Inaccurate Nature of Breathalyzers

Breathalyzers are not perfect devices. They must be calibrated regularly, and the officer using it may not administer the test correctly. Yet, even in perfect conditions (i.e. a well-calibrated device, proper use, etc.), a breathalyzer may be inaccurate.

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Last fall, an off-duty Petaluma Police officer crashed a motorized scooter on the fourth fairway of the Rooster Run Golf Club. The police department held a benefit golf tournament at the public golf course October 5. The off-duty officer who crashed a scooter had worked the graveyard shift the night before the tournament and reported in the morning to drive a golf cart transporting "pin-up girls" around the course during the tourney and other tasks related to the event, according to the Press-Democrat.

At some point, authorities say that the officer borrowed a motorized scooter from a fellow officer and reportedly took a run onto the course. That is when he allegedly crashed, suffering undisclosed injuries. Officers and police brass were all over the course for the tournament, but after the wreck, the off-duty cop was not asked to perform field sobriety tests, nor did he submit any breath or blood sample.

Someone at the golf course called 911, and the officer was taken to Petaluma Valley Hospital for treatment. About a month passed, and Petaluma Police reportedly contacted the California Highway Patrol to open a DUI investigation related to the incident. Petaluma Police claim that the department had been looking into the incident and desired to have an independent investigation opened.

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Many people buy in to the stereotype that people who are arrested for DUI are alcoholics, party hounds or just plain "losers." In reality, people of all backgrounds and from walks of life get accused of drinking and driving. Drunk-driving arrests often lead to convictions, of course, but frequently enough they are based on spurious field sobriety tests, miscalibrated breath testing machines, the effects of legal prescription drugs or other mistakes.

Society may wish to believe that successful, responsible people are never charged with DUI, but they do. Last Saturday, for example, the man chosen by the Vatican to become the next archbishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco was arrested in San Diego on suspicion of drunk driving.

The 56-year-old bishop from Oakland was driving his elderly mother home after a dinner with friends when he encountered a police sobriety checkpoint. Officers at the checkpoint claim the bishop appeared to be intoxicated and they arrested him.

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A spokesman for the Kings County Sheriff's Department says that when management and supervisors in the unit learned that the deputy smelled of alcohol, he was called back into the sheriff's office. Investigators called in the California Highway Patrol to investigate the man for evidence of alcohol.

The deputy now accused of DUI while on the job was scheduled for the night shift. Authorities claim the deputy had admitted to drinking before reporting for work. The accused has been with Kings County for nine years. He has been placed on administrative leave from the sheriff's office, pending an internal investigation.

He is also facing serious charges in criminal court. The 49-year-old deputy was booked into the Kings County Jail. He was released after six hours and is scheduled to appear in court in July on DUI charges.

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Hundreds of DUI cases have been called into question in Ventura County after months of faulty readings were discovered. Deputies are required to conduct tests to confirm the accuracy of a reading. Law enforcement first noticed a faulty reading in January. As many as eight devices have shown to provide erratic readings. The breathalyzers remained in use until last week.

The breathalyzers in question were purchased in December. Last week, the county pulled all 128 devices from service. The discovery of inaccurate readings may impact a large number of DUI cases including a number of California DUI convictions in the county. The manufacturer of the Alco-Sensor V breathalyzers reportedly has acknowledged the defect in the devices and claims the problem will be fixed.

Roadside breathalyzer readings taken with the devices have no evidentiary value in court. However, some individuals arrested for DUI may have decided to plead guilty based upon the faulty breathalyzer results. The county elected to begin using the device to obtain an instant reading of breath alcohol content in suspected DUI cases.

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Former teen heartthrob David Cassidy, best known for his role on "The Partridge Family" was arrested on suspicion of DUI last week. A Florida Highway Patrol officer claims he saw a white 2008 Mercedes weaving on the turnpike. The Mercedes allegedly cut off another vehicle on the turnpike. The actor was charged with DUI after the police investigation.

During the traffic stop the singer-actor allegedly admitted having a glass of wine with lunch earlier in the day. Cassidy reportedly also admitted to taking hydrocodone for pain around 3:30 in the afternoon. The officer stopped Cassidy at roughly 6:20 p.m.

The trooper claims a half-empty bottle of bourbon was under the seat of the Cassidy's Mercedes at the time of the stop. The actor reportedly was "swaying while standing" after stepping out of the vehicle. Cassidy reportedly failed field sobriety tests.

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