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Why Breath Tests Are Unreliable

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

November 25, 2019

When a person is arrested for drunk driving in Florida, he/she must then take a breath or blood test to determine his/her blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If the individual has a BAC of at least .08, he/she could be charged with a DUI.

But according to an investigation by The New York Times, the breath test devices used by practically every police department throughout the country are generally untrustworthy. In the past year alone, Massachusetts and New Jersey courts have dismissed over 30,000 DUI cases based on inaccurate breath test results.

The following are some of the main reasons why you cannot trust breath test results:

  • Human error – In a Colorado case, the Intoxilyzer 9000 that was used to charge a man in 2016 was improperly calibrated. A lab technician testified that before 160 of those devices were released to state police departments for use, the lab records were fabricated to show they were properly calibrated—with the help of a lawyer, sales manager, and intern. In Washington D.C., Ilmar Paegle was hired to take over the Metropolitan Police Department’s program overseeing the breath tests used by its police officers and discovered that his predecessor continuously entered the wrong data that miscalibrated the machines for 14 years.
  • Oversight error – When defense lawyers and their experts were permitted to analyze two Alcotest machines in a Massachusetts case, they found that the state forensic lab didn’t have a written protocol to calibrate and test the devices. Since the lab hadn’t followed a “scientifically sound methodology” the judge hearing the case threw out all breath test results between 2012 and 2014.
  • Programing error – In a New Jersey case, defense lawyers and their experts could assess the software of the Alcotest 7110 machines that state police departments had been using. The experts found that the devices had mechanical and technical shortcomings, as well as thousands of programming errors, which led to incorrect results.

If you or a loved one has recently been arrested for a DUI in Daytona Beach, Hager & Schwartz, P.A. can help you figure out if the device used to test your BAC wasn’t calibrated or contained programming errors that lead to the incorrect result. Let us help you protect your rights and freedom today.

For more information about our legal services, contact us today at (386) 693-1637 and schedule an immediate consultation.