Archive for October 5th, 2007

Lab Fraud Discovered in Breathalyzer Accuracy Checks

Friday, October 5th, 2007

And in today's "Suspicions Confirmed" Department:


DUI Lab Errors Affect Drivers' Licenses

Olympia, WA, Oct. 3.  AP  –  Department of Licensing examiners have reinstated 28 drivers' license in the past two weeks because of problems at the State Patrol's toxicology lab.

One examiner who dismissed 18 suspensions, Josephine Townsend, told The Olympian she lost confidence in the reliability of breath test evidence.

The department has scheduled a hearing for the patrol to explain its work in verifying the breath test machines are accurate.

The lab manager resigned in July after she was accused of certifying machines she never checked personally. And in August the lab revealed that a calculating error produced results that were slightly higher than they should have been.


Keep in mind that most contested DUI cases involve "trial by machine" — the breathalyzers are judge, jury and executioner in most DUI cases.  Our system of justice cloaks these devices with a reverence reflected in laws imposing a legal presumption of guilt — that is, if the machine  registers .08% or higher, the jury is instructed that they must convict the defendant unless he can prove his own innocence

So how accurate are thse machines?  See some of my earlier posts: How Breathalyzers Work — and Why They Don'tHow Accurate are Breathalyzers?; Report: Breathalyzers Outdated, Unstable, Unreliable; Breathalyzers: State of the Art?; Why Breathalyzers Don't Measure Alcohol.

Not to mention crime labs falsifying accuracy, calibration and maintenance records…

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