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  • Writer's pictureDavid A. Cmelik Law PLC

Cedar Rapids Iowa DUI Lawyer: 211 breath tests in so far 2024

There have been 211 evidentiary breath tests in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, since the beginning of 2024, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.


Of those, 13 were “incomplete,” three were “invalid.” According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety Datmaster DMT manual, an “invalid” test result results when ethanol spikes and then decreases during the breath test, resulting in a so-called “negative slope.” A negative slope may mean that residual mouth alcohol is spiking the breath test—as alveolar, or, deep lung, air is not likely to have a varied ethanol composition. In this way, the machine is informing its operator to stop the test, clear the test subject’s mouth of any foreign substance or object, and begin a follow up test only after a 15 minute deprivation period.


Three were “blank errors.” Blank errors are among a group of errors, including ambient air failures and standard-out-of-range, that may indicate solvents or excessive ethanol in the ambient air.


Seventeen were zero breath tests. Law enforcement officers have many excuses for zero breath tests—and rarely acknowledge when they have wrongly documented signs of impairment.


For example, so-called Drug Recognition Experts, or, DREs, begin with a breath test purportedly to “rule out” alcohol as part of their testing protocol—although this protocol conveniently operates to mask any initial law enforcement interpretation of the intoxication as alcohol-induced when the test comes back zero. If such an expert is cross-examined on their mistake of beginning first with an alcohol breath test instead of, say, a blood or urine test, seemingly countering their drug recognition expertise, they simply testify it is step one of their 12 step DRE protocol regardless of their individualized suspicion.


Drug recognition expert certification requires 10 days training over and above the training required at the law enforcement academy. It also requires experience as a field sobriety test administrator and DMT operator. Therefore, certification among the cadre of law enforcement officers throughout the state is rare and not likely to represent the high number of zero tests in the 2024 sample of DMT tests in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


The fact that eight percent of evidentiary Datamaster DMT breath tests are zero results so far in 2024 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, supports the hypothesis that officers are mistaking purported signs of impairment for alcohol intoxication in its complete absence. This may mean that another drug is present or that the subject is not intoxicated at all.


If you have been arrested for OWI, Iowa’s DUI law, in Cedar Rapids or other Iowa community, contact us for an initial consultation.


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