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Drunk drivers cause numerous auto accidents each year in Las Vegas and across the valley. These wrecks often result in injury or even death to innocent people. As a result, Metro Police does all that it can to catch and prosecute people who are caught driving under the influence.

But a new ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court may make Metro Police’s job more difficult.

The court tossed out a DUI charge that was based on a method of blood alcohol content testing called "retrograde extrapolation." Individuals who are suspected of DUI have their blood tested by authorities, and if the person’s BAC is higher than .08, he or she is classified as legally drunk. The retrograde extrapolation method involves testing a suspect’s blood a few hours after being pulled over, and then using several factors to extrapolate his or her BAC at the time of arrest.

But the state Supreme Court dismissed the April 2006 DUI conviction of Bobby Armstrong, whose BAC was measured at .18 two hours after a car crash. The court noted that time was the only factor used to estimate Armstrong’s BAC at the moment of the accident; and other data such as weight, gender, and the type of food in Armstrong’s stomach were not taken into account. Therefore, the DUI charge was not properly substantiated by testing – and the conviction was overturned.

This ruling may have an effect on how police officers handle DUI suspects in the future. It also may make it harder to convict drunk drivers, which in turn may impact how victims are able to succeed in any related personal injury lawsuits or wrongful death lawsuits against impaired drivers who may have caused DUI accidents.