If law enforcement stopped you on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and you took the breathalyzer test, what were the results?
Breathalyzers are machines, and machines do not always work as they should. An incident in Philadelphia points to the kind of issue that can affect the outcome of a DUI conviction.
The Philadelphia incident
In the summer of 2016, an attorney noticed an issue with the kind of breathalyzer the Philadelphia Police Department used and brought it to their attention. The main component in a breathalyzer is a solution essential in measuring blood alcohol content level. To ensure the calibration is on target and results of the test accurate, the solution requires annual updating. The problem the attorney brought to the police department was that the date on the breathalyzers—specifically, the solution date—had expired. Therefore, accurate calibrations were in doubt.
Affecting case outcomes
The police had to send out every machine for solution replacement. Once done, they recalibrated the machines and returned them to service the same day. However, the situation had far-reaching effects. Even if the calibration was technically correct, the expired solution would allow defense attorneys to say that tests already taken with the old solution were inadmissible in court, possibly affecting from 500 to 1,000 Philadelphia DUI cases, according to the attorney who reported the problem.
The penalties you face when charged with DUI are harsh, and a conviction leaves a lasting effect on your record, casting a cloud over your future. In a suitably aggressive defense, a thorough investigation examines all the circumstances surrounding your arrest. A law enforcement officer may not have followed administrative procedure properly. There could have been an issue with a field sobriety test. As to the breathalyzer test, each machine has a range of error, and each must produce accurate results. Remember the incident in Philadelphia.