In the early morning hours of Sunday March 11, 2007, a Nassau County police officer observed a speeding vehicle on the Long Island Expressway. Trained to visually estimate speed, the officer verified his initial assessment with a laser speed gun and initiated pursuit that further confirmed the speeding vehicle to be travelling at roughly 90 miles per hour. The driver, William E. Lent, was subsequently pulled over.
During their following interactions the officer observed several indicators that led him to suspect the driver might have been intoxicated. Mr. Lent, upon being probed in regard to his questionable sobriety, confessed to having recently consumed one alcoholic beverage. This admission prompted the officer to administer several field sobriety tests, none of which Mr. Lent was able to pass. Mr. Lent was immediately arrested and transported to the Nassau County Police Department Central Testing Unit.
Upon arriving at the facility, Mr. Lent was administered another series of tests. Once again he was unable to pass any of the assessments. This prompted Mr. Lent to consent to a chemical test to determine his blood alcohol content (BAC) via a breath test instrument. The legal BAC in Nassau County is 0.08 per centum by weight; the device evaluated Mr. Lent’s BAC to be at 0.11 approximately two hours after his initial arrest, over the legal limit. William E. Lent was charged with driving under the influence.
The foundation for Mr. Lent’s defense during trial relied on the introduction of expert testimony describing individual variation for the population in the conversion ratio used to derive the BAC level in the breath test instrument used on Mr. Lent. The defendant’s representation would not argue the accuracy of the device used on their client, but rather hope to present a compelling case backed with evidence to suggest that Mr. Lent’s individual ratio existed outside the tolerance of the machines acceptable range established by the norm of the population, thus invalidating the test results.
In addition to this argument, Mr. Lent’s defense also attacked the reading from the standpoint of independently and objectively executed calibration and maintenance of the breath test instrument. To determine the upkeep history of the machine and, therefore, the accuracy and objectivity of its readings, ensuring absence of bias that would be in favor of law enforcement or otherwise, the team requested calibration and maintenance documents to be introduced as supporting evidence.
Furthermore, the defendant’s team would argue that fidelity was not exhibited in regard to mandatory continuous observation prior to the breath test being administered.
In the end Mr. Lent’s defense team was unable to produce sufficient proof that their client’s conversion ratio existed beyond the mean allowed by the breath test instrument to be considered an accurate representation of an individual’s BAC. The calibration and maintenance of the machine mandated for use in an official capacity of the law and not as a direct accusation of the offense rather as a supplementary and voluntary addition precluded the claim that these requirements were negligently conducted and only affected the weight of the reading, not invalidated, in addition to the other evidence presented. The observation period before the execution of the test was determined to not invalidate the instruments results, but at most affect the weight of the results. William E. Lent was convicted of a DUI criminal offense and the verdict upheld in appeals.
There are legitimate defense strategies if you have been accused of a DUI offence in Nassau County. Breathalyzers, by nature of the algorithmic analysis inherent in the device, produce an estimate of BAC and there are multitudes of scenarios that could produce inaccurate readings and diminish the weight of readings. Mouthwash, breath spray, and wine tasting can all deliver false positives on these devices. Witness testimony and poor procedural execution when handling evidence or administering tests by law enforcement are all possible defense strategies in any given case. There is hope.
If you or someone you know has been charged in Nassau County with a DUI offence, call the law offices of Stephen Bilkis and Associates at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW for a free-of-charge consult with a Nassau county lawyer specializing in DUI defense. Locations for appointments are available in New York City and Long Island. If your schedule does not facilitate scheduling a consult during normal business hours, off-hour meetings can be arranged at your convenience. We are here to defend you.