Iowa Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Breath Test

By Mary Ann

The high court of Iowa overturned a lower court ruling that results of a DataMaster DUI breathalyzer test device were too unreliable to be used as evidence.

Courts throughout the United States have been wrestling with this issue of the reliability of DUI breathalyzer tests.

Aaron Stohr had been stopped by an Iowa state trooper. The trooper noticed a container of beer and indications that Stohr had been drinking. Stohr failed a sobriety test and was taken to the police station, where he submitted to a breath test, using a DataMaster device.

He registered a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.114 percent. The per-se legal limit for DUI in Iowa is 0.08 percent BAC.

Stohr challenged the result of his breath test, claiming the DataMaster’s internal programming was unreliable. The trial court agreed.

The State Supreme Court, however, ruled the DataMaster to be sufficiently reliable, noting that the device had been reviewed and approved by the public safety commissioner.

The Iowa Court said a driver can challenge the reliability of his particular breath test in court, but the result of the test will still be allowed as evidence.

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One Response so far

In Florida, it is a crime to refuse to submit to a breath test and a one year sentence may be imposed. With the reliability of breath tests being suspect, it would seem to me that the test would have to be absolute before a person could be charged and sentenced for refusing to submit. Am I off base on this one?
John McNmara