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Alaska DUI Digest

A Nose Knows?

Posted by John Roberson III | Jan 25, 2024 | 0 Comments

You know, police officers are trained to sniff out alcohol, but this on study that despite their "training" police are not infallible. I once had a case where the officer swore he smelled booze, but my client's Blood Alcohol Content? It was under the legal limit. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Can we really trust our noses, even trained noses to make such big calls? The study points out that various factors like diet, medication, and even certain medical conditions can mimic the scent of alcohol. This raises questions about relying on smell as evidence in DUI cases. This is particularly true because smell is not the type of evidence that can be presented objectively. An officer cannot record or preserve a smell. 

I'm not saying we should toss out every officer's testimony. Breath odor can definitely smell like be a heads-up, but it shouldn't be the be-all and end-all in a DUI charge. Especially here in Alaska, where the weather alone can throw your senses for a loop. Cold air can sometimes mask the smell of alcohol or even make it more difficult for an officer to discern different odors. That's why we always advocate for a fair assessment of the situation, looking beyond just what's sniffed out.

Here's the skinny on Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and why it plays the role it does in the prosecutions case:

  • Legal Limits & Grey Areas: In Alaska, the BAC limit for a motorist is 0.08%. But what about those teetering on the edge? For these borderline cases, context is key. We need to look at all circumstances and understand that  alleged BAC readings aren't always the final word.
  • When Breath Doesn't Match BAC: I've had cases where the officer claims that, judging by someone's breath they were intoxicated. But their BAC told a different story. That's why we need solid, scientific proof—like breathalyzers or blood tests—instead of just going by smell. Inaccuracies can happen, and it's our job to unearth these discrepancies.

Having been in Alaska for 20-plus years and in law for a decade, here's my two cents on defense strategies:

  • Question Everything: Like this one time, middle of a freezing Alaskan night, an officer claimed he smelled alcohol. But guess what? My client was sipping a mocktail. It's moments like these that remind us to scrutinize every detail. We have to consider environmental factors, the officer's experience, and even the calibration of the breathalyzer used.
  • The Full Picture: A strong defense isn't just about one thing; it's about looking at everything, from why you were stopped to how they tested your BAC. It's about telling your side of the story, the whole story. We dive deep into the sequence of events, witness statements, and even explore alternative explanations for the alleged signs of intoxication.

So there you have it. DUI cases and the whole alcohol breath odor thing—it's complicated. As someone who's been defending Alaskans for years, I say take it all with a grain of salt. Facing DUI charges? It's not just about the evidence; it's about the story behind it. And that's where we come in, ready to help you steer through these tough times. 

About the Author

John Roberson III

10+ YEARS OF COMBINED CRIMINAL DEFENSE EXPERIENCE 35+ CRIMINAL JURY TRIALS 500+ CASES ANDCHARGES RESOLVED 18+ YEARSIN ALASKA Experienced & Aggressive Criminal Lawyer About Law Office of John H. Roberson III, LLC John brings diverse experience, dedication, and legal knowledge to each ca...


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