Alcohol intoxication often leads to accidents as it impairs vision, reduces reaction time, and causes drowsiness in the driver. According to the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Prevention, almost 25,000 alcohol-related traffic injuries were recorded in 2010 alone; aside from this, the support group Mothers Against Drunk Driving estimates that one person is injured in a drunk driving incident every 90 seconds.
Unfortunately, drunk driving cases aren’t always cut and dry. While the arresting officer can conduct field sobriety tests, defendants can argue that they failed due to physical impairments they may have or because of confusing instructions. Aside from this, they can also challenge the validity of Breathalyzer results on grounds of improper calibration and accuracy.
To help determine culpability, courts often hire the services of a trusted forensic toxicologistto serve as expert witness. The toxicologist comprehensively reviews all evidences pertaining to a case—including sobriety test and Breathalyzer results—to determine if the defendant was indeed intoxicated when the incident occurred. The findings are then presented as a testimony that will hopefully guide the jury towards a decision. Since numbers and solid, scientific facts don’t lie, the findings of the toxicologist usually trumps subjectivity and groundless claims.