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A calibration issue shows how DWI breath testing can fail

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2018 | Blog

Let us say that a law enforcement officer stopped you on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. You submit to a breath test, but are the results accurate?

A breath test machine can run into problems, an example of which came to light because of a tip from an observant attorney.

Tipping off police

In the summer of 2016, an attorney in Philadelphia notified the police department of a problem with the breath test they were using: The calibrations had expired. These machines have to be recalibrated annually, and because of the problem the attorney brought up, the police department had to remove the instruments from service immediately. The issue involved the solutions that ensure accurate readings for blood alcohol content levels. The authorities replaced the outdated solution in every machine and put them back on line the same day.

The ramifications

Due to the expired calibrations, defense attorneys could argue that tests taken with the devices involved could be inadmissible as evidence in drunk driving cases. The attorney who brought the problem to the attention of the police department estimated that the outcome of 500 to 1,000 cases could be in question.

A similar problem locally

Many things can affect the accuracy of any breath test, including a calibration error of the type encountered in the Philadelphia incident. For example, the officer who administers your test might not have received proper training. The breath test machine might not have been cleaned properly. Furthermore, you might have taken medicine that contained alcohol shortly before law enforcement pulled you over, and this trace of alcohol could have had an influence on the BAC reading.

Facing consequences

If an officer arrests you on suspicion of drunk driving, you can reach out for legal assistance. Remember that DWI on your record can affect both your personal life and your career. The penalties for a DWI conviction in the state of Texas are harsh, but a criminal defense attorney will undertake a thorough investigation, which would include the breath test the officer gave you, with the goal of achieving the most positive outcome possible for your case.