At the beginning of this month, the Florida Supreme Court began to hear arguments in a case that could have long-lasting consequences for thousands of South Florida drivers every year. Although the case stems from a criminal proceeding, the outcome will affect the process by which even civil lawsuits may bring in certain data about breathalyzers.
Under Florida law, citizens who take advantage of the privilege of driving on Florida roads are agreeing to an “implied consent” to submit to a request for a breathalyzer exam. Therefore, while a police officer will not force a driver to take the breathalyzer exam, a driver’s refusal to do so may be admitted during trial if the officer told the driver that failing to take the breathalyzer may result in the suspension of their license.
The case before the Florida Supreme Court involves three individuals who have been charged with drunk driving. The defendants want to obtain the documentation relating to the software that is used in the breathalyzer exam instruments. The company that maintains this software is called CMI.
Normally, obtaining evidence needed for a trial is a fairly straightforward process. Attorneys for both parties communicate with each other and make requests for specific documentation, witnesses or other materials. However, obtaining evidence can be more difficult when the evidence is located outside of the state.