J.V.A. v. Comm'r of Public Safety
Our client (JVA) was stopped for speeding last year. The officer administered field sobriety tests and ultimately arrested her for DWI. The DataMaster breath test results were .092 and .087, and the state revoked her license for 90 days.
JVA, a medical doctor, hired us to challenge the driver’s license revocation, but also to protect her medical license as well. We filed a law suit to challenge the revocation. As part of our preparation, we obtained documents from the police department, squad video recordings and video recordings made at the jail, and records from the state crime lab. We scrutinized the recordings and other records and were troubled by what we found.
At the hearing we were able to show that the police officer failed to follow his training. Specifically, breath test operators are required to observe a test subject for at least 15 minutes before testing to ensure they don’t belch, burp, regurgitate, or place anything in their mouth. Here, rather than strictly following his training, the officer left the room, and was unable to observe JVA. JVA credibly testified during that time she was burping – which adversely affects the validity of the breath test result. Her testimony was confirmed by the video recordings.
As a result the Judge ruled that the officer failed to follow the necessary procedures to ensure the test was valid, reliable and accurate, and threw out the breath test result. With no admissible evidence to support the license revocation, the judge overturned the license revocation. Our client now has a clean driving record.