In a recent criminal law matter, a Superior Court of Connecticut dismissed the appeals of four plaintiffs who were challenging their license suspensions, unconvinced that a device used to measure blood alcohol content (BAC) did not comply with statutory regulations.
In this case, the plaintiffs submitted to BAC tests administered using an Intoxilyzer machine and each had readings over the legal limit of 0.08. As such, they were charged with operating a motor vehicle with an elevated BAC in violation of General Statutes § 14-227a(a)(2), a per se statute. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspended their licenses and the plaintiffs appealed, contesting the validity of the Intoxilyzer results. A hearing was held before the court, and the appeals were remanded to the DMV Commissioner. During the remand hearing, the hearing officer found that the Intoxilyzer measures the amount of alcohol present on a person’s breath on a “weight-per-volume basis.” The machine itself does not have the ability to convert this number to a “weight-by-weight” figure, though this can be accomplished through extrapolation. The appeals were dismissed, and the plaintiffs appealed to the Superior Court. They argued that § 14-227b(o) of the per se statute requires that BAC be measured by weight in the context of administrative license suspension, and because the Intoxilyzer instead measures BAC by volume, the results were not valid.
Under § 14-227a(d), the Connecticut legislature clearly envisioned that a person’s BAC could be measured by breath. Indeed, the Superior Court reviewed case precedent which “implicitly approved” Intoxilyzers and held that a BAC measurement from breath is “an ‘equivalent’ of the blood alcohol content measure of blood.” These cases prompted the legislature to amend the criminal regulations “to permit equivalent measurements of [BAC] by the Intoxilyzer.” By extension, the per se regulations permit equivalent measurements because “the per se regulations piggyback on the criminal regulations.” Therefore, the Superior Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ appeals.
When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or license suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.