Portable BAC testing machines are under attack for gross errors

On Behalf of | Mar 6, 2020 | DUI Defense

One thing you can usually count on if a police officer suspects you of drunk driving is that he or she will request you take a portable breath test. These handheld machines estimate your blood alcohol concentration. If your BAC is 0.08 or higher, you may find yourself under arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Because nearly every law enforcement agency in the country, including those here in Florida, uses these handheld machines, you probably believe they provide accurate results. Otherwise, why would police departments rely on them? Supposedly, they work well enough to establish probable cause for an arrest, but not well enough for prosecutors to use as evidence of your alleged guilt in court.

What is the main problem with these devices?

The primary problems with handheld breath-testing machines are calibration and maintenance. Some police departments don’t even take the time to make sure the machines calibrate properly before handing them out to patrol officers. In fact, one manufacturer that was supposed to provide qualified technicians to a department to calibrate the machines ended up sending a lawyer and a salesperson to do the job.

Another report indicates that an improperly calibrated machine could end up giving results that are up to 40% higher than they should be. That is a significant number, especially when your rights and freedom are at stake. The machines also contain computer software that could have bugs or glitches. Of course, even when the machines are working properly, they don’t always give accurate results. In some states, thousands of DUI arrests and convictions are under scrutiny due to these issues.

What should you do?

If an officer arrested you on suspicion of DUI based on the results of a roadside breath test, don’t be quick to enter a guilty plea and accept your fate. Instead, it would more than likely be worthwhile to challenge the accuracy of the results. It may turn out that you could have other objections to your interaction with police that led to your arrest. The only way to know is to conduct a thorough review of everything that happened from the moment the officer turned on the lights and sirens.

You would greatly benefit from enlisting the assistance and advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you achieve the best possible outcome to the situation.