Controversial breath test reviewed, questions about reliability raised

reathalyzer results are being questioned for providing inaccurate results.

A story out of Massachusetts is gaining national attention, and for good reason. The story involves the use of breath tests to prosecute against driving under the influence, or DUI, charges. A recent article in The Boston Globe reports that prosecutors raised concerns about the accuracy of the devices, causing attorneys to review cases for questionable breath test results.

According to Massachusetts Public Safety officials, the use of Breathalyzer tests may be problematic. In fact, the issue is so concerning that officials have suspended the use of breath tests while further investigations are conducted. The story could have a national impact, as many police departments use similar devices and procedures to conduct breath tests and charge drivers with drunk driving.

More on the case

A recent article by a local ABC affiliate notes that issues with the software used for the Breathalyzer device or calibration problems with the machine itself may be at fault. It also clarifies that the breath test instrument can provide very accurate and reliable results, when properly used and maintained.

However, a single misstep in the maintenance or use of the device can lead to inaccurate results which could result in false charges of driving while under the influence. This case provides an example of the mistakes that can arise and the need for those who face charges to carefully review the evidence mounted against them.

Breath test and Pennsylvania law

Pennsylvania state law has strict requirements regarding the use of a breath test. The test must be conducted by a certified breath test operator and the equipment must be inspected and calibrated by either a certified breath test operator or manufacturer as stated in the accepted standard procedures for operation published by the manufacturer of the equipment.

State law also requires that breath test equipment that fails testing should be placed out of service until it is properly reviewed and repaired by the manufacturer.

Defenses are available

Defenses are available for those who are charged with a DUI. Poor maintenance or administration of a breath test, as demonstrated in the story above, is just one example. Additional examples include a break in the chain of custody of evidence and an improper stop.

An improper stop occurs when officers lack probable cause to justify a stop. If there is not probable cause for the initial traffic stop, any evidence gathered after the stop is likely inadmissible. Enforcement officers must also follow strict protocol regarding gathering and handling evidence. If the proper chain of custody is not followed, the evidence may not be allowed in court.

Legal counsel can help

These are just a few of the defenses that can be available for those who face drunk driving charges. As a result, those facing charges are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer. This legal professional will review the details of your case and tailor a defense strategy to your unique situation, advocating for your rights and better ensuring a more favorable outcome.

Keywords: criminal defense DUI

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