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Colorado Breathalyzer tests questioned after faulty calibration

Imagine that you're driving an hour north of Denver in Weld County. A police officer pulls you over and asks you to take a breath test. You're informed that the test shows that your blood alcohol content is unacceptably high. You are then placed under arrest for driving under the influence.

Later, you find out that the breathalyzer itself was not properly calibrated and that the police officer who performed the test didn't notice the botched calibration. That's the situation facing up to 33 people, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Denver's ABC News station reports that the department recently issued a report on an Intoxilyzer 9000 machinue used in the county to test people suspected of drunk driving. The station says the machine wasn't properly calibrated during its certification process and that officers performing breath tests with the machine "did not identify unacceptable calibration results."

A DUI attorney contacted the CDPHE in May with information about a DUI test conducted in March. In that test, an instrument used to test the calibration of the Intoxilyzer 9000 showed a temperature out of proper range.

That triggered an audit of all similar instruments used in Colorado; the audit led to the discovery that 33 breath tests had been done on an improperly calibrated Intoxilyzer between August of last year and January of this year.

Twenty-four of the cases involved the Colorado State Patrol, with nine from Weld County communities and the Weld County Sheriff's Office.

There's a perfect illustration of how a DUI attorney can lend invaluable help to clients: by checking the details of an arrest and making sure that the facts match the allegations.

Source: ABC News Denver, "Breathalyzer quality control issue affects 33 cases in Weld County, CDPHE reports," Phil Tenser, June 5, 2014

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