Every year, 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.
Breath Tests Are Highly Inaccurate
Investigations 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 equipment.
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.
Breathalyzers Inaccurate by as Much as 40%
Breath-test readings 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.
Programming 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. For the representation you need and deserve, contact Hinkle Law Offices today.