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Your DUI conviction could depend on breathalyzer accuracy

Perhaps law enforcement stopped you one evening on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. You submitted to breathalyzer testing, which showed your BAC was over the legal limit.

Your defense team will want to know if the result was accurate. Investigators find that breathalyzer tests are frequently unreliable. That one fact could alter the course of your DUI case.

Recent findings

Every police station in the country has breathalyzer machines, sensitive devices that are supposedly precise in measuring blood alcohol concentration levels. However, many are not calibrated properly, and the results can be as far off as 40% too high. A New York Times investigation found, among other revelations, that judges in New Jersey and Massachusetts threw out the results of 30,000 breathalyzer tests within the past year either because of human error or because of insufficient government oversight.

The Philadelphia example

In the summer of 2016, a private attorney informed the Philadelphia Police Department that their breathalyzers were out of date. What he meant was that the solution that establishes accurate blood alcohol concentration readings had expired. Police departments are responsible for the proper maintenance of these machines, and in the Philadelphia incident, the oversight meant that up to 1,000 DUI cases from the first half of the year were likely to undergo review. Defense attorneys could argue for the reversal of convictions saying that because of the expired solution, the test results were inadmissible in court.

Removing safeguards

The New York Times investigation also turned up programming mistakes. Each brand of machine has a certain range of error, but some states use breathalyzers with disabled accuracy safeguards. As a result, people who test on these machines may be wrongly convicted because of dubious evidence.

Questioning validity

If law enforcement arrests you for DUI, your legal team will launch an investigation into the circumstances and ask questions about the breathalyzer test you took. Keep in mind that mistakes can occur on several fronts, beginning with the possibility of flawed breath test results. Your future is at stake, and the focus of your defense will be obtaining the best outcome possible for your case.

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