According to Tampa Bay’s 10 News, a problem with breathalyzer tests may have led to “thousands” of people in Florida being convicted of DUI when they weren’t drunk at all. The problem is in the calibration of the machine, and in the fact that the state knew about the problem and did nothing to remedy it.
10 News says they came across emails and documents that prove the state knew about the problems for over two and a half years before taking significant action. A Sarasota deputy noted problems as far back as 2007 and alerted an inspector about the issue. The head of the breath testing program then told inspectors to simply not mention problems with the breathalyzer equipment in their field notes, encouraging, in essence, a cover up.
The machine in question, known as an Intoxilyzer 8000, wasn’t registering air flow correctly. It eventually had to be pulled out of service and sent in for repairs. But this single machine wasn’t the only one with problems. One in Venice was calibrated incorrectly and was delivering breath levels that weren’t “humanly possible.”
In all, about half of every Intoxilyzer 8000 in the state of Florida was found to have not been calibrated correctly. Robert Harrison, who went through state records, suggested this finding has “enormous implications,” that people may have been wrongly convicted and the state may have been able to prevent such actions had they heeded signals that there were problems with the machines.
Breath testing machines, like most man made pieces of technology, are not fail proof. They do make mistakes. Unfortunately, many people (particularly law enforcement and prosecutors), give a considerable amount of weight to the results of these machines, taking their readings as fact and often using them as the basis of a criminal case.
Most defense attorneys know about the common flaws of breathalyzers and know that these machines cannot be trusted to provide 100% accurate tests results. When you are accused of drunk driving and the basis of the state’s case rests in breath test results, your attorney may be able to argue that the calibration wasn’t done correctly or that the officer administering the test hadn’t been appropriately trained.
Challenging the results of a breath test is just one way in which your defense lawyer may be able to argue your innocence. If you are facing charges of DUI in Florida, contact our offices today for a free consultation on your case.