DUI Breath Tests are Often Unreliable

After getting arrested for a DUI, law enforcement officials will request a suspected drunk driver to take a breath test (or sometimes blood test) in order to determine the person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If the level is .08 percent or higher, he/she would most likely be convicted of a DUI.

However, a New York Times investigation discovered that most breath testing devices used by police departments throughout the country generate incorrect results at alarming rates, despite being marketed as always accurate machines. Tens of thousands of tests have been invalidated in recent years, including 30,000 breath test results that were thrown out in Massachusetts and New Jersey criminal courts within the past year alone.

The following are some of the reasons why you cannot trust alcohol breath tests:

  • Mistakes by humans – In a Colorado case, the machine used to charge a man with drunk driving produced inaccurate results because the device wasn’t properly calibrated. Since the state forensic lab was about the release over 160 new Intoxilyzer 9000s for use, the lab’s supervisor allowed an intern, a sales manager, and a lawyer—individuals who lacked any technical experience—certify these machines. In Washington D.C., the head of the Metropolitan Police Department’s breath-testing program learned that his predecessor—who ran the program for 14 years—continuously entered the wrong data into the devices, leading to inaccurate results.
  • Programming errors – Although the State of Washington spent over $1 million to replace their old breath testing devices with the Alcotest 9510, the machines were not considered an advanced scientific measurement machine and fails to follow “even basic standards of measurement.” Experts believed the inherent calculation error rounded up the results and failed to measure a driver’s breath temperature.
  • Lack of oversight – While the Alcotest 9510 machines also created problems in Massachusetts, the state forensic lab failed to create a written procedure to calibrate and check devices. In a 2017 court hearing, not only did the lab lack a “scientifically sound methodology” but it also hid records of hundreds of failed calibrations.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI in Rhode Island and subsequently failed the breath test, The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq. will investigate your case, gather evidence, and determine if law enforcement officials failed to properly calibrate the device used or if the machine contains programming errors that produced inaccurate results. Our firm fully understands the problems associated with breath-testing machines and will do whatever it takes to get those results thrown out.

For more information about DUI cases in Rhode Island, contact us today at (401) 312-4385 for a free consultation.