400 Wrongly Convicted in Washington: Faulty Breathalyzers

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on June 10th, 2010

I’ve posted well over 100 times during the past six years on this blog about the multitude of reasons why breath alcohol machines are both inaccurate and unreliable.  See, for example, How Breathalyzers Work (and Why They Don’t), Breath Alcohol Testing: "State of the Art"?, Breathalyzer Inaccuracy: Testing During the Absorptive Stage, "Close Enough for Government Work" and Why Breathalyzers Don’t Measure Alcohol.

In today’s news, just another example of the tens of thousands of American citizens who face "trial by machine"…and are wrongly convicted: 

 
Wash., DC.  June 10 – Nearly 400 people in Washington, D.C., have been convicted of driving while intoxicated based on faulty breath tests that calculated blood alcohol levels about 20 percent higher than the reality.

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said the problem was caused when a police officer set improper baseline levels on the machines, the Washington Post reports. Nickles’ office is contacting the convicted drivers and their lawyers.

About 200 of those convicted spent some time in jail, the story says. At least one lawsuit has already been filed based on the revelation.

Nickles’ office launched an investigation after an outside consultant indicated a possible inaccuracy.


(Thanks to Steve Oberman, Nashville, TN, co-author of my book Drunk Driving Defense and Dean of the National College for DUI Defense.)
 

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