Inaccurate Breathalyzers Blamed on Defense Attorneys

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on October 2nd, 2005

In dozens of posts over the past year, I've railed about the inaccuracy and unreliability of breath machines.  Finally, news that law enforcement officials in Florida have indentified the problem:  defense lawyers.

….The blunders that have allowed a slew of accused drunk drivers to walk recently are not a rarity. In fact, a recent wave of such mistakes is indicative of the uncertain technology used to prosecute DUIs. Florida's police departments have chosen to use balky, outdated equipment that's often as much as two decades old.

There are new, more accurate machines available, but law enforcement agencies say that a statewide changeover would just make DUI cases in the pipeline vulnerable to the predatory attacks of clever lawyers.

According to Laura Barfield, who's in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's breath-testing monitoring program, buying the new machines would put into question any arrest made on the old machines. "It would open the door for defense attorneys to question why we haven't used the new one," she says, repeating the bunker-like philosophy of cops and prosecutors who have been stung by smart defense lawyers.

So let's see if I have this right:  ok, the machines are junk, but we can't get more accurate ones because then those smart defense lawyers will say that this proves the old ones are junk…..So we've got to keep using the junk.  After all, the important thing is to get convictions, right?

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