Archive for November, 2017

Are Breathalyzers Always Right?

No, breathalyzers are not always right.

In fact, the handheld devices some police use after stopping drivers for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol produce results so unreliable that Ohio courts do not recognize the readings as scientifically valid evidence at all. Anyone facing trial for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI) in or around Columbus owes it to him or herself to hire an experienced Columbus DUI attorney to challenge breath test results.


Refuse Requests to Blow Into a Portable Breathalyzer

Columbus police and Ohio State Highway Patrol officers are allowed to carry and use alcohol breath-testing devices. They can consider the results when deciding to make an initial arrest and order additional alcohol and drug testing at a state-certified laboratory. They cannot, however, submit a reading from a portable breath-testing device to a court as evidence to support an OVI conviction.

The kinds of devices most people picture when they think “breathalyzers” are simply too inaccurate to provide evidence of intoxication. They are either too sensitive, misidentifying structurally similar chemicals as the ethyl alcohol in beer, wine, and liquor, or too easily misused and misread, falsely confirming a decision the arresting officer has already reached.

Agreeing to blow into a portable alcohol breath testing device can only make things worse for a driver suspected of driving drunk. Since Ohio laws do not make it illegal to refuse roadside breath testing, drivers should say something like, “I prefer not to blow into a breathalyzer, officer,” when asked.


Question Breath Tests Done at Labs

Despite mistrusting field tests for alcohol on the breath of OVI suspects completely, Ohio courts place great faith in breath-testing results obtained at certified medical facilities and police stations. Many of the same problems exist, however.

Suspects who cannot generate the lung power to register a readable result can be accused of noncompliance and charged — falsely — for test refusal. Beyond that purely physical problem, blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) measured by doing analyses of people’s breath can be artificially raised by what an individual ate recently, use of mouthwash, vomiting, and even a high fever.

A Columbus traffic lawyer will explore all such confounding factors, as well as how the officer conducted the testing. Police must follow a script when request a breath sample and explain the consequences of refusing to comply. If the required information is not shared with a suspect, test results may be thrown out.

A Columbus traffic defense lawyer will also check to see if the breath-testing equipment used at the lab was recently serviced and used correctly. Any breakdown in procedures that are spelled out in great detail by state judges and regulators can provide grounds for requesting that OVI charges be dismissed.


Worry About Ignition Interlock Devices


A sentence for an OVI conviction frequently includes an order to install an ignition interlock device in each vehicle owned and driven on a regular basis. Such devices are often called car breathalyzers because they shut off the engine unless the driver blows an alcohol-free breath sample into the device. Samples are required when the vehicle is started and every 15-30 minutes while the vehicle is running. An alarm sounds when a breath sample is required. Ignoring the demand for a breath test or registering a positive BAC stops the vehicle and generates a report for the people monitoring compliance.

The person under sentence for OVI must pay for the installation of the ignition interlock device, pay to have it checked and calibrated every two weeks or each month, and pay to replace a broken or defective device. When calibration slips, false positives become more likely, which increases the risk for rearrest and sentencing for more jail time and other sanctions.

If you need help from a DUI defense attorney in Columbus, Ohio, talk to a Columbus traffic attorney now.

Occupational Diseases That May Lead to Workers’ Comp

When your job makes you sick, you may qualify for benefits from Cleveland Workers’ Compensation (OWC). The state disability program makes qualifying with an occupational disease difficult, though. Preparing the workers’ comp application with the help of a lawyer who has represented many other people who grew too ill to continue working can improve the chances for receiving payments to replace lost wages and to support medical treatments and ongoing therapy.


Qualifying Conditions

OWC maintains a schedule of occupational diseases that, when accurately diagnosed and clearly linked to on-the-job exposures and activities, can qualify a person to receive workers’ comp benefits. That list includes

  • Poisoning by lead, mercury, phosphorous, arsenic, benzol and its derivatives, gasoline, benzine, naphtha, volatile petroleum products, carbon disulfide, wood alcohol, carbon dioxide, brass, zinc, manganese dioxide, radium, potassium cyanide, or sulfur dioxide
  • Asbestosis (i.e., lung disease, but not mesothelioma, from breathing in asbestosis)
  • Berylliosis (i.e., lung disease from breathing in beryllium)
  • Silicosis (i.e., lung disease from breathing in silica/sand)
  • Anthrax, which can be contracted from cattle or soil
  • Glanders, which is a livestock disease, particularly in horses, that can pass to humans
  • Tenosynovitis and prepatellar bursitis (i.e., inflammation of fluid-filled sacs around joints)
  • Chrome ulceration of the skin or nasal passages
  • Skin cancers caused by contact with or exposure to toxic and caustic substances such as carbon, pitch, tar, or tarry compounds
  • Eye cancers caused by contact with or exposure to toxic and caustic substances
  • Lung diseases caused by contact with or exposure to toxic and caustic substances
  • Infections caused by oils, cutting compounds or lubricants, dust, liquids, fumes, gases, or vapors


Generally, OWC will not consider a single exposure or isolated assignment sufficient to haves caused a disease that keeps an Ohio employee out of work for an extended period. Exceptions can be made for massive exposures like the kind that can occur during an industrial accident.

In addition to the scheduled conditions, the OWC will consider awarding workers’ comp benefits to firefighters who develop lung cancer or respiratory illnesses, police officers who get diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, and anyone who has evidence of long-term exposures to the following:

  • Extreme cold
  • Extreme heat
  • Sudden changes from low temperatures to high temperatures
  • Loud noises
  • High-frequency noises
  • High atmospheric pressure
  • Steady vibrations
  • Radiation
  • Infectious organisms


A final set of conditions that may qualify for workers’ comp benefits are repetitive motion disorders. Carpal tunnel syndrome from contorting one’s hands is probably the best-known repetitive motion disorder, but a disabling condition due to constant bending, lifting and twisting can develop in any muscle group, tendon, ligament or joint.

Consulting with both an experienced occupational health physician and a knowledgeable Ohio workers’ compensation lawyer when questions exist about whether a condition will qualify is always a good idea. Acting quickly in preparing a workers’ comp application is also necessary.


Statute of Limitations

The OWC enforces a 2-year statute of limitations for filing workers’ compensation applications. The clock usually starts when symptoms force the applicant to stop working or when a diagnosis is confirmed. In the few instances when an extension of deadline for submitting a claim is granted, it only lengthens the statute of limitations by 6 months.

The application should go to OWC with as much medical evidence, personal work history, wage information, and therapy details as possible. Collaborating with an Columbus workers’ compensation lawyer will help ensure that the initial application packet is as complete as possible. Partnering with a legal representative early in the process also offers the applicant a ready ally should it become necessary to appeal a denial of workers’ compensation benefits.

A free consultation with a workers’ comp attorney based in Cleveland can be requested by filling out this online form. Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman lawyers can also be reached by phone at (800) 678-3318.

Cleveland OH Workers Comp Lawyer
Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman
6100 Oak Tree Blvd., Suite 200, Cleveland Ohio 44131 USA
Tel: (216) 328-2125 Fax: (614) 221-7308 Map