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Name: Lane v. Valverde
Case #: F061775
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/31/2012

In a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) administrative hearing, once the Department has met its burden that the blood-alcohol test results are presumptively valid, the burden shifts to the licensee to establish that the tests are not valid. Appellant contested the suspension of his driving privilege, contending that the breathalyzer machine had not been tested for accuracy at the required intervals. At a DMV administrative license revocation hearing, the Department has the burden of establishing by a preponderance of evidence that the driver’s blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit. This can be done by introduction of breathalyzer evidence. Under the California Code of Regulations, title 17, section 1221.4, the alcohol-blood testing instrument used for the breath test must periodically be tested for accuracy at 10-day intervals. However, there is nothing in the regulation that provides that the test is presumptively invalid if testing of the instrument falls out of compliance at some later point after the breathalyzer test is given. Here, following a solo car accident, licensee Lane was administered a breath test on January 2, 2010, a day after a required accuracy test of the machine was, in fact, conducted. Although the instrument subsequently was not tested within the compliance period, because Lane was tested less than 10 days after the January 2 accuracy test, the Department met its initial burden in establishing reliance of the test; a reliance Lane failed to rebut.