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Judge: Officer lied about driver's breath test

Most court hearings and trials for a drunk driving case are fairly straightforward. Evidence is presented and challenged, a ruling is made and a sentenced is handed down. However, there are times when this process can prove to be quite dramatic.

One case, for example, ended with shouting and an overturned conviction. The situation all hinged on the testimony of an officer, a checked box and a breath test.

According to reports, a woman had been arrested and charged with driving on a suspended license. However, that charge was apparently the result of a conviction on a previous DUI citation that proved to be problematic.

In court, it came up that the original DUI citation had an error on it. The officer who arrested the woman checked a box indicating that a breath or blood test showed she was legally intoxicated. However, the woman's breath was never actually tested. The prosecutors argued that it was a simple mistake, but the judge stated that the officer's "mistake" ultimately cost the woman her driving privileges and led to another arrest.

The judge wanted prosecutors to drop the charges for the woman's suspended license and hold the officer accountable for lying on a government document, but his request was refused. The judge then decided to throw out the jury's verdict of guilty and found the woman not guilty for driving on a suspended license because it was the result of an error. He also argued that the original DUI on which the woman was originally convicted was shaky at best.

Most court hearings and trials will not be this dramatic and emotionally-charged. However, this should serve as a very real reminder that mistakes are made by officers and prosecutors when it comes to the pursuit of a conviction. People who are facing similar charges should understand that they have the right to have an attorney defend them against the allegations by challenging the evidence and any procedural missteps that may have been made.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Sanford judge yells at prosecutor, reverses jury's guilty verdict," Rene Stutzman, March 24, 2015

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