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Could the results of your Breathalyzer test be thrown out?

If law enforcement arrested you for DUI and used a Breathalyzer to measure your blood alcohol concentration level, how accurate were the results?

Breathalyzer testing can be inaccurate as an incident in Philadelphia illustrates, and that could mean a whole different outcome for your case.

Encountering solution issues

In the summer of 2016, a Philadelphia attorney notified the city police department that the Breathalyzer machines they were using were not calibrated properly. Breathalyzers contain a solution that establishes accurate blood alcohol concentration readings for the people who undergo testing. The solution in the machines the Philadelphia police were using had expired.

What this meant

The Breathalyzer solution requires annual replacement for proper calibration. The expiration may not have affected the accuracy, but to be safe, the police took the machines offline immediately and replaced the solution. The devices were back in use by the end of the day.

The problem was that because of the expired solution, defense attorneys could argue that test results were not admissible in court. The attorney who brought the matter to light estimated that the expired solution issue could affect the outcome of 500 to 1,000 DUI cases from the first half of the year. The police department took the situation to the Office of the District Attorney and requested a review of all cases involving Breathalyzer results from that time period.

Machines are fallible

Every Breathalyzer machine has a range of error. If the test results fall within that range, they are acceptable. However, as the Philadelphia incident shows, the test results may not be admissible in court. Remember that readings can be inaccurate because of faulty calibration or even poor equipment maintenance. Upon examination of the legalities pertaining to your arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, several other questions may arise, including whether the person who tested you received proper training on the machine. The goal of scrupulous investigation, including breath-test results, is to arrive at the best outcome possible for your DUI case.


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