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Was the Testing Equipment Used in Your DUI Stop Defective?

Dec. 14, 2018

Machinery can fail. Tests can have errors. If a law enforcement officer gave you a breath test during your traffic stop on suspicion of DUI, were the results accurate?

A breath device test problem that developed in Philadelphia shows how a simple equipment issue could affect the outcome of not just one DUI case, but hundreds.

The Calibration Incident

In July of 2016, an attorney notified the Philadelphia Police Department authorities that the testing devices they were using had a problem: They were not calibrated properly. The Department confirmed that the calibration date on the machines had passed and promptly took them out of service. The breath test machines had to be recalibrated annually with a solution that was very important to the testing process: It established the accuracy of BAC results. After replacing the expired solution, authorities had the breath test devices back in service the same day.

Inadmissible Evidence

In light of the calibration issue, the Philadelphia Police Department asked the Office of the District Attorney to look over cases involving breath tests for the first six months of the year. The attorney who originally brought the matter to the attention of police estimated that the expired solution could end up affecting the outcome of 500 to 1,000 DUI cases. From a legal point of view, defense attorneys could say that the results of tests taken on machines with the outdated solution were not admissible in court.

Other Defects and Errors

Although it is not uncommon for defects or irregularities to compromise the results of testing equipment, procedural errors that occurred during or after your arrest could also be a cause for case dismissal. The person who drew your blood sample might not have received proper training. The blood kit may not have been sterile. There are many opportunities for human error or machine defects with respect to your arrest on suspicion of DUI. Do not delay in learning about your rights and your legal options.