millions of Americans experience the same heart-in-your-stomach moment that
begins more or less the same way: Flashing blue lights in the mirror, an
officer asking you to get out of the car, a field sobriety test and,
inevitably, a request for your submission to a breath test. Your compliance, or
lack thereof, could mean the difference between jail time and going home free.
Are Highly Inaccurate
reveal that breathalyzers — a piece of equipment that serves as the bedrock of
the criminal justice system — are, more often than not, extremely unreliable.
Every police station in America uses them, and they are used with alarming
frequency to convict drivers of operating under the influence, but recent cases
suggest that it may be time to replace them with new and more accurate
According to the
results of the investigation, New Jersey and Massachusetts threw out more than
30,000 DUI cases in a 12-month span. Why? Because of human error and
lackadaisical government oversight when it came to issuing and maintaining
breathalyzer equipment. That’s just the findings from two states; hundreds of
other courts across the nation have been forced to dismiss DUI/DWI cases
because of invalid results or improperly administered tests.
Inaccurate by as Much as 40%
aren’t just a little off, either. In many cases, especially those in which the
devices haven’t been properly calibrated, the results are 40% too high. This
means that drivers who have maybe a single beverage an hour before getting
behind the wheel are at risk of getting arrested and charged with a DUI. Those
who may be at risk for a simple DUI charge could, instead, receive an
aggravated DUI. Individuals who take cough medicine before driving may blow a
.08 or higher.
Why are these
machines so off, though? Investigations reveal it mainly has to do with
maintenance. Police departments are responsible for cleaning and calibrating
breathalyzer devices. Unfortunately, many departments are too overworked, lazy
or inexperienced to do a good job of it. Though that may sound like a harsh
conclusion, results don’t lie. In some cities, lab techs used home-brewed or
old solutions that warped results. In one Massachusetts department, officers
were administering tests with a machine that had rats nesting inside of it.
mistakes are also a huge influencing factor.
Don’t Risk a
Conviction Based on False Readings
If you get stopped
for a driving under the influence, don’t fall victim to poorly calibrated or
poorly maintained breathalyzer devices. If anything, ask to be taken to the
precinct, where the officer can administer a more accurate test. If you face
DUI charges based on a breathalyzer test’s readings, you’re not out of options.
A skilled DUI/DWI defense attorney is a familiar with the breath test pitfalls
and can use his or her knowledge to skillfully defend you against DWI charges.