||Defending Women Against DUI|
Special Defenses for Women Charged with DUI
At the Sammis Law Firm, P.A., our DUI attorneys pay particular attention to new developments in Florida law that can be used to defend women charged with DUI. Although most individuals charged with DUI are men, women are being arrested for DUI in increasing numbers each year.
The consequences of a DUI conviction may be particularly harsh for a woman. If you have been arrested for DUI and are interested in defenses that may be unique to women in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, Hernando County and Manatee County contact the Sammis Law Firm today to discuss your drunk driving case with an experienced Tampa DUI Lawyer. We wecolme your cases to discuss your case.
Women and the DUI Field Sobriety Exercises - FSE
After a woman is stopped for drunk driving, the officer may request that she exit the vehicle to perform certain roadside agility exercises, called "field sobriety tests." These exercises can be especially difficult for women to complete successfully because of concerns about safety, and difficulty dealing with the stress of the situation.
Concerns About Safety
The vast majority of drunk driving ("DUI") enforcement officers are men. Women stopped late at night, especially in isolated areas, may be reluctant to cooperate with a DUI officer for the purpose of completing roadside agility exercises. The officer may incorrectly assume that this reluctance is an indication of guilt. Women who decline the officer's invitation to take the roadside agility exercises (or field sobriety exercises) in Florida may have very legitimate reasons for the "refusal" other than being under the influence of alcohol.
The Disadvantage of High Healed Shoes
Women who do agree to take the roadside agility exercises may be at a huge disadvantage if they are in high heeled shoes or flip flops. Although the DUI law enforcement officer may give the woman the option of removing her shoes before attempting the field sobriety exercises, walking barefoot on the roadside may not be a safe or comfortable option. The stress of taking the roadside agility exercises late at night on the roadside may be so stressful for some women that their performance on the exercises may be graded inaccurately resulting in a false arrest.
Reactions to Stress
Being stopped by an overly aggressive DUI officer would be a stressful situation for anyone. Women tend to react to unusual and stressful situations very differently than men. For instance, women may be more likely to begin crying or shaking, not because they believe they are guilty, but because of the stress of the situation. A male officer may incorrectly interpret those physical indications of stress as indicators of alcohol intoxication.
Special Reasons to Refuse Testing in Florida
Women may also be more reluctant to take a breath, urine or blood test because of privacy or safety issues. A woman who feels as if she was treated unfairly during the arrest may be less likely to accept the officer's invitation to take her blood, breath or urine because of those circumstances that are completely independent from being "consciousness of guilt."
If you have been charged with a DUI refusal case, it is particularly important to talk with a Tampa DUI Attorney about all of the facts and circumstances that surrounded the arrest and the reasons why you refused to take the breath test.
Gender Bias Inherent in the DUI Breath Test Machine
When a female is arrested for DUI and submits to a breath test, special defenses may exist to show that the breath test reading is flawed. This defense is particularly effective in cases involving readings that are only over the legal limit of 0.08 but less than 0.15. Hiring a DUI expert who can provide testimony on the newest scientific studies showing "gender bias" inherent in the breath test machine may make the difference in your Tampa Bay drunk driving case.
The breath test machine used in Florida, the Intoxilyzer 8000 ("intox machine"), can give incorrect reading when used on women. Several scientific studies support the fact that because of inherent bias in the breath test machine women often have artificially inflated readings. This means that if a woman and man with the same body weight drink exactly the same amount of alcohol over the same time period and then take a breath test the woman's breath test reading may be significantly higher than the man's reading.
Alcohol Absorption and Women
The Intoxilyzer 8000 was designed and calibrated with the average man's physiology in mind, even though a woman's physiology is very different. Women absorb alcohol differently than men because their bodies are different than men. For example, woman can obtain a higher Blood Alcohol Content faster than a man because women have a much higher fat to muscle ration than men. Because of this lower ration of lean muscle mass, alcohol is not absorbed as quickly.
Additionally, women have a lower percentage of water in their bodies than men, which can cause a higher breath test reading. If a man and a woman of the same weight consume the same amount of alcohol, the alcohol disperses into all body water inside and outside of cells. Because women have less water in their bodies, the alcohol appears more concentrated.
It also takes women longer to metabolize alcohol because women have less of the ADH enzyme in their bodies than men of the same size and weight. The lower level of the ADH enzyme results in a higher proportion of alcohol reaching the blood stream before being converted into acetate. Numerous studies also show that this gender bias inherent in the Intoxilyzer 8000 is particularly noticeable for petite or very thin women.
Breath Test - Fluctuations in a Woman's Body Temperature
Women also have larger fluctuations in hormones and body temperature than men. During a woman's premenstrual state her body temperature is elevated creating which creates an elevated blood alcohol concentration reading because of incorrect assumptions made by the machine. The breath test machine assumes that the temperature of the breath is 34 degree Celsius. Every degree of body temperature over that "normal assumption" creates a reading that is artificially high.
Scientific date on the subject shows that even a body temperature one degree over normal can cause a breath test reading that is 6.9% higher than it should be. Studies have also shown that women who take birth control pills will absorb alcohol faster which also contributes to an artificially high Blood Alcohol Concentration reading.
If a woman and man of the same size and height consume the same amount of alcohol over the same period, the woman's reading may be artificially higher than the man's reading for any of these reasons, even though their level of intoxication and impairment is the same. This gender bias is compounded by the fact that the breath test machine was not developed for testing on women. Instead, it was designed and calibrated with the "average man" in mind. The breath test machine was created using the average man's lung capacity, temperature, lean muscle mass, water content, and other factors.
DUI and Diet Drinks
Many cocktails popular with young women can cause surprising results for the woman's blood alcohol levels because blood alcohol levels depend not just on the amount of alcohol consumed, but also by a host of surrounding circumstances. For instance, drinking a cocktail mixed with diet soda may cause alcohol to hit the bloodstream faster than when that same cocktail is mixed with a beverage that contains sugar.
A recent study found that artificially sweetened beverages left the individual's stomach faster than alcohol consumed with a beverage contained sugar. Although blood alcohol levels peaked 30 minutes after the drinks were consumed, the individuals that consumed the alcohol with the diet drink had an average blood alcohol level of 0.05, while those individuals that consumed the alcohol with a sugary drink had an average blood alcohol level of only 0.03.Artificially Sweetened Versus Regular Mixers Increase Gastric Emptying and Alcohol Absorption - Web MD article discussing the study published in the the American Journal of Medicine, Volume 119, Issue 9, Pages 802-804.
DUI Information Center
DUI Refusal Cases - Women often refuse the field sobriety exercises or the breath test for a variety of reasons that may be slightly different than the reasons commonly given my men. Find out more about the advantages and disadvantages in a DUI refusal case.
DUI Roadblock or Checkpoint Cases - Women may be stopped in a DUI Roadblock or DUI Checkpoint even through no traffic offense was committed. Find out more about contesting the legality of the stop in a roadblock or checkpoint case.
Felony DUI with Serious Bodily Injury - Women can be charged with felony DUI because it is a third or subsequent offense or because someone was injured as a result of the impaired driving. Find out more about Felony charges of DUI, and special defenses to fight these serious accusations.
DUI Administrative Hearings - After a DUI arrest, you only have 10 days to file the appropriate paperwork to contest the administrative suspension of your driver's license. Find out more about how the administrative hearing may give you a huge advantage in protecting your driver's license and fighting the case at trial.
FR-44 Insurance - After a DUI conviction, you will be required to obtain special insurance that is drastically more expensive for up to five years after the conviction. Find out more about the hidden costs of a DUI conviction.
Florida's Boating Under the Influence Charges - BUI is a serious charge. Find out more about Florida's laws governing the charge of boating under the influence of alcohol or while impaired by drugs.
DUI with Injury or Property Damage - The penalties for DUI can be increased or enhanced if any injury occurred or if the DUI incident resulted in property damage. Find out more about these enhanced penalties and ways to avoid them.
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Defending Women Charged with DUI in Florida
If you have been arrested for DUI and believe that your breath test was higher than it should have been or that other gender bias issues may have played a role in your arrest, consult a Tampa DUI attorney to review your case. We represent women charged with DUI cases in Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Polk County, Pinellas County, Manatee County and Hernando County.
Find out more about how DUI cases are prosecuted in Tampa, Clearwater, Bartow, New Port Richey, Dade City, and Bradenton. The breath test machine can be inaccurate, especially when the person taking the test is a woman. Other special considerations are important when defending DUI cases against women. Contact a Tampa DUI Lawyer for more information about whether these important defenses might apply to your DUI case.
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