The Science Behind DUIs
DUIs are unlike most criminal charges because of the heavy amount of science that is involved in the cases. For example, to even be able to determine that someone is driving above the legal limit of .08 law enforcement has to involve a complicated machine to measure the breath alcohol content of the individual suspected of DUI. These machines, such as the Intoxilyzer 8000, are difficult to understand. The average Joe cannot explain how the machine work.
Additionally, the science behind how alcohol is metabolized in each individual body is extremely complex. Only those trained in the applicable sciences can even begin to understand how a body can metabolize alcohol and at what rate. There is also the question of how alcohol impairs an individual and whether a certain individual is actually impaired as demonstrated by the field sobriety tests administered. Suffice it to say DUIs are not clear cut cases.
When Should You Get an Expert?
To answer this question you should determine what your trial strategy will be. For example, if your defense is that the traffic stop was illegal, there’s probably no need for an expert witness. The judge can make that determination without outside help. On the other hand, if your strategy is to attack the accuracy of the breathalyzer machine or the blood test, you will probably want an expert witness. Likewise, if you want to attack the field sobriety tests administered you would want to get an expert witness on the issue.
It is sometimes a good idea to get an expert witness early on in the case to be able to give you consultation on various issues. Having that expert consultation early on will allow you to determine if you should have an expert witness at trial.
Not every case needs an expert witness and expert witnesses are expensive. Consult with an attorney to determine if you should look into getting an expert witness.