Breath test calibration could be off in your DUI testing

| Nov 20, 2018 | Firm News |

If law enforcement pulls you over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, you may think it would be an exercise in futility to fight the charge against you.

However, there are several possibilities for errors during your arrest, and one of them concerns breath testing instrument calibration.

Case in point

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a breath testing incident in 2016 had the potential to affect the results of hundreds of DUI cases. In July of that year, an attorney informed the Philadelphia Police Department that the calibration in the breath test machines they were using was out of date. More to the point, the solution in the machines had expired, and it is the solution that establishes the accuracy of blood alcohol content readings. Authorities immediately took all the devices offline. New solution replaced expired solution, and the machines went back into service.

Why it mattered

In the Philadelphia matter, pending DUI cases could still go to trial because, in lieu of breath test results, an arresting officer could attest to the “general impairment” of a defendant. However, due to the calibration issue, results of cases that were tried during the first half of the year were suddenly in doubt. The reason? Defense attorneys could say that tests taken with expired solution were inadmissible as evidence of DUI.

Fighting the charge in Arizona

The breath test device used in Arizona is the Intoxilyzer 8000. It contains a gas solution with alcohol for calibration purposes. The Department of Public Safety mandates an accuracy range of 0.09 percent to 0.110 percent. The calibration is not working properly if the testing shows results that are outside of that range.

Your attorney may question other elements of your case, such as whether there was probable cause for your arrest, or whether the arresting officer violated your rights in some way. An improperly calibrated breath testing device is just one example of why you should challenge the charges against you.