In late March, I attended the 20th Annual Mastering Scientific Evidence (MSE)
seminar in New Orleans. Topics included field sobriety tests, breath tests and blood tests
, among others. Speakers included lawyers, professors, and scientists. Cases dealing with DUI arrests, perhaps more than any other criminal cases, use “scientific” evidence to convict those accused of driving impaired due to alcohol or drugs.
Georgia courts have determined that some evidence used in DUI cases has reached a “verifiable stage of certainty in the scientific community,” and therefore should perhaps be given more weight and credibility than other evidence. The danger in making such assumptions is that IF the so-called scientific evidence is based on shoddy or incorrect scientific methods
then any such evidence used to convict someone of a crime
in effect violates the Due Process clause of the US Constitution.
Let’s first define science.
According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is “knowledge attained through study or practice,” or “knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world.”
What does that really mean? Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. Less formally, the word science often describes any systematic field of study or the knowledge gained from it. For DUI arrest cases
, the science portion refers to the methodology and results derived from field sobriety tests and state chemical tests.
Most scientific investigations use some form of the scientific method,
a logical and rational order of steps by which scientists come to conclusions about the world around them. The scientific method helps to organize thoughts and procedures
so that scientists can be confident in the answers they find. Scientists use observations, hypotheses, and deductions to make these conclusions. If any of the scientific method is incorrect or does not meet certain standards set by the scientific community, then the conclusion could be incorrect.
After attending this seminar, it is readily apparent that some of the “science” used by the State in DUI cases is suspect. Even the early controlled studies in the 1970s of field sobriety evaluations
were skewed scientifically!
In the next few posts, I hope to point out the flaws in this “evidence”. Connect with me on social media through my MRGADUI Facebook
, and Google +
pages for the latest DUI and criminal attorney news. Stay tuned, you may be shocked!