BREATHALYZER TESTS FOR DUI INCREASINGLY CALLED INTO QUESTION
Nov. 13, 2019
When Coloradans and people across the U.S. are stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of driving under the influence and asked to take a breathalyzer test, they are confronted with the possibility that they will register a blood-alcohol content that surpasses the legal limit and subsequently be arrested. If they do not comply, they will be charged with breathalyzer test refusal, which is a violation by itself. These charges can be problematic in multiple ways and a breath test is commonly one of the main sources of evidence used by law enforcement and prosecutors.
After that test and a BAC beyond the legal limit – which many laypersons generally automatically accept as accurate – they will face a conviction and the accompanying penalties. Increasingly, however, the machines that are used for the tests are called into question. This is drawing newfound scrutiny with a New York Times report about the inaccuracy of these test results. According to the report, the devices are marketed as being exceedingly accurate. Still, in New Jersey and Massachusetts, more than 30,000 of the tests were deemed inadmissible because of a lack of oversight and human error. This is prevalent throughout the nation.
Such problems as a failure to properly calibrate the machines are leading to the inaccurate readings. Some results have been 40 percent higher than they should have been. Law enforcement agencies are responsible for this calibration and maintenance, but were found to be lackadaisical in their efforts. Laboratories have taken to using chemical solutions of their own making or stale solutions. This has muddled the results. In some instances, the machines were not programmed as they should have been.
Because a breath test is often the determinative factor in whether a person is arrested for DUI, the results of the breathalyzer are a critical part of a case. If the machine is found to be inaccurate or have other issues, this could be a viable avenue for a defense. Since a DUI conviction will result in various consequences legally, personally and professionally, questioning the validity of the test itself could be effective to get an acquittal. A law firm that has experience in all areas of DUI may be able to assist.