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Stories like this are what throws BAC accuracy into question

Here we go again.

A story concerning an important component in the realm of select police/motorist interactions is garnering increasing interest across the country.

That it is might reasonably strike many of our readers across Colorado as starkly unsurprising. For, indeed, tales surrounding both the alleged and proven inaccuracies of alcohol-testing breathalyzer devices surface with some regularity.

A judge in one state ruled last year, for example, that blood alcohol content results pegged to breathalyzer readouts were “presumptively unreliable” in thousands of cases.

The breathalyzer that came under close scrutiny and was found wanting in that scandal was the Alcotest 9510, made by the German medical technology Draeger.

That same device is now prominently in the news once again, and for all the wrong reasons. The bottom-line takeaway from media accounts that are gaining steam is the conclusion of two research experts that Alcotest 9510 results should be interpreted “with extreme caution.”

The views of those researchers were solicited following a 2015 DUI arrest in Washington State in which breathalyzer findings were questioned. The researchers obtained Draeger’s source code pursuant to a court order. They concluded through a detailed technical examination that Alcotest 9510 BAC findings were questionable.

And they then presented their conclusions via a report distributed to hundreds of defense attorneys at a national conference last summer. Before things could go much further, they were slapped with a cease-and-desist communication from Draeger alleging violation of the court order.

Draeger states that its forceful response owes solely to a desire to protect its valuable code, not to silence criticisms of its breathalyzer. Critics counter, though, that Draeger is indeed trying to stifle the report’s broad dissemination and its potentially powerful effect on juries hearing DUI-linked testimony.

We will keep readers updated on this story.

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