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Researchers find that skewed breathalyzer results are common

A recent investigation from the New York Times turned up surprising information about the validity of breathalyzer tests.

Their findings confirm what attorneys know to be true: The results of breathalyzer tests are more often flawed than the public realizes.

A little history

Every police station in the country uses breathalyzer machines to test the blood alcohol concentration level of people suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. For years, these machines have served as the foundation for building a case against a drunk driver. The problem is that the devices need regular maintenance to perform properly, and police department personnel are often lax in taking care of the machines.

About the research

New York Times researchers conducted extensive interviews with over 100 scientists, lawyers, police officers and executives. They looked through thousands of court records, contracts, corporate filings and confidential emails. In so doing, they uncovered a national problem with flawed breathalyzer machines that has never attracted sufficient notice.

Case in point

Breathalyzers are very sensitive machines that police departments must ensure are properly calibrated. As an example, an incident in Philadelphia arose when the solution that ensures accurate readings expired, an issue that could have changed the outcome of up to 1,000 DUI cases. Although the breathalyzers received fresh replacement solution, defense attorneys could argue that the results of the machines with expired solution were inadmissible in court, possibly reversing hundreds of DUI convictions. In their investigation, the New York Times researchers found that in many instances, the machines are not calibrated properly, resulting in readings as much as 40% too high.

The possibility of a misstep

If law enforcement arrests you on suspicion of DUI, you will likely take a breath test. Keep the New York Times investigation in mind, and explore your legal options promptly. Your legal team will look for any missteps in procedures, as well as inaccuracies in the breathalyzer testing to protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

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