If you are facing DWI charges, you are facing serious charges – the consequences of which can severely impact your future. If these charges are based on a breathalyzer test that was taken when you were stopped by the police, there is a recent article in the New York Times that sheds some light on exactly how unreliable that test could be. The consequences of a DWI conviction are far too significant to leave to chance; if you are facing such charges, it is imperative that you bring your strongest defense.
The New York Times Article
The article is entitled These Machines Can Put You in Jail. Don’t Trust Them. It finds that breathalyzer tests are woefully inadequate because they amount to faulty tests that are administered on the side of the road by poorly trained officers on inadequate testing equipment. In spite of the fact that these tests are responsible for about a million DUI arrests each year, they generate skewed results with alarming frequency. The Times based its findings on interviews with over a hundred lawyers, police officers, scientists, and executives and on tens of thousands of pages of corporate filings, court orders, and confidential emails.
Throwing Breath Tests out of Court
The Times article noted that judges have thrown thousands of breath tests out of court for a variety of reasons, including:
- Invalidation due to human error
- Invalidation due to lax governmental oversight
- Invalidation due to the devices themselves being found suspect (often due to miscalibrations)
- Invalidation due to the poor standards maintained by some police departments
- Invalidation due to lack of expertise in maintaining the testing equipment
Further, technical experts have even discovered serious programming mistakes in the software used in these testing devices.
Refusing a Breath Test
The only way to consistently measure blood alcohol content accurately is with a blood test, which necessitates a warrant. Breath tests can be obtained more simply. In fact, in the State of Texas, if an officer requests that you take a breathalyzer test and you refuse – while you have the right to do so – that refusal can result in an immediate license suspension of up to 180 days. In spite of the fact that there is growing mistrust related to breath tests, you can be punished for refusing to be tested and can potentially be erroneously charged with DUI for complying with testing. Neither is a great option. The fact is that many DUI convictions begin with faulty breathalyzer tests.