While the following story didn’t occur here in Denver, Colorado, it carries significance no matter where you live. According to a report out of Lincoln, Nebraska, more than 180 DUI cases have been compromised as a result of an incorrectly-calibrated breath testing device. In the wake of the scandal, one employee at the Sheriff’s Office resigned.
It appears that the breath test device hadn’t been calibrated in more than three years. Once it was discovered, a thorough review of past cases that involved the breath test device turned up 183 cases that were compromised. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the 183 individuals involved in these cases will be cleared of any wrongdoing. Even though the breath test could be compromised, there are still ways that the prosecution could have a case.
However, this speaks to a larger problem: the fact that we trust the results of breath test devices and blood test results without question. We accept that the devices must somehow be properly calibrated or absolutely correct, even though the results of the test could be tainted, or the test itself could have been improperly administered. And, of course as we see with this story, the devices themselves could be inaccurate.
It is important for someone who is accused of a drunk driving offense to question these results. If you consult with an attorney, the two of you can build a case against the results that seem to show that you were intoxicated while driving. However, if there are flaws in those results (or with the device or the people using the device), then the case against you could collapse.
Source: Journal Star, “Faulty breath-test device jeopardizes more than 180 DUI cases,” Tammy Real-McKeighan, Oct. 29, 2015