If law enforcement pulls you over on suspicion of drunk driving and you submit to a breath test, you assume that whatever the breathalyzer test shows will make or break your case.
However, an incident that occurred in Philadelphia shows that breathalyzers can have accuracy issues.
How it works
You breathe into a mouthpiece and the computerized breathalyzer calculates your blood alcohol content level. The machines are made by different manufacturers. In Pennsylvania, for example, police departments may use the DataMaster or various Intoxilyzer models, and outside companies provide bottles of solution for the machines. The solution is what establishes the accuracy of the BAC readings.
The Philadelphia incident
In the summer of 2016, an attorney informed the Philadelphia police that the calibration on their breathalyzers had expired. The machines must be calibrated annually, and when the police confirmed that the solution was indeed outdated, the instruments were removed from service immediately. New bottles of solution solved the problem and the breathalyzers were back on line the same day.
The issue raised
The attorney who brought the problem to the attention of the police department estimated that the improper calibrations could have affected 500 to 1,000 DUI cases. The police asked the district attorney to review any cases for the first half of 2016 that involved breathalyzer tests. Because the solution in the machines had expired, defense attorneys could say that the results from those breath tests were not admissible in court.
Mounting a defense
An experienced criminal defense attorney will tell you that when you are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, your legal team will launch a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Whether this is a first offense, or you already have a record, you deserve the best representation possible for your case. Errors are always possible when someone is suspected of DUI, and one of the first items to be researched will be the accuracy of your breathalyzer test.