New Report Shows That Breathalyzer Machines Are Often Unreliable!

A close up of a police officer handing a driver a breathalyzer test through the window of their vehicle.

The report reveals disturbing info about breath testing in the US!

Drunk driving accounts for hundreds of thousands of arrests every year, all over the country. Here in Michigan, more than 35,000 people are arrested for DUIs every year. That’s a lot of people being pulled over and subjected to breath tests, roadside sobriety tests, and eventually blood work. But what if right off the bat, the data is wrong? What if you get pulled over and breath-tested by the cops, but the Breathalyzer machine (or the Datamaster, which is what we use here in Michigan) is wrong? Will you end up wrongfully accused of being drunk behind the wheel when you’re not? Maybe…

A recent report in the New York Times revealed that breathalyzers are often wrong. More often than you’d think. And that means people are either being falsely accused of the crime of drinking and driving, or being allowed to get back into their vehicles and drive away when they should have been pulled over and arrested. Either way, it’s bad! 

Does it matter if a Breathalyzer is wrong now and then?

Good grief, yes it does! As investigative journalists Stacey Cowley and Jessica Silver-Greenberg report, the devices “generate skewed results with alarming frequency, even though they are marketed as precise to the third decimal place.” And that decimal is important, because even a fraction of a point over the legal limit counts as drunk here in Michigan. (And in case you’re wondering, the legal limit here in the Great Lakes State is .08)

Research done by Cowley and Silver-Greenberg show that breath test machines in police stations all over the country aren’t properly cared for. Because each department is in charge of calibrating and cleaning their own breath test machines, there aren’t any “universal standards”. Some departments make more effort than others. Some make almost no effort at all. In a few cities, the chemicals used to clean the machines were actually affecting the results. In one city in Massachusetts, officer were actually using a machine that rats had nested in!

How is criminal justice affected if breathalyzer results are often incorrect?

As the report points out, it goes both ways. People being falsely accused and convicted of crimes is a tragedy. But when actual criminals are allowed to go free because of faulty results, it’s equally tragic. When Massachusetts was forced to throw out more than 36,000 breath tests, many cases fell apart. People who had been observed swerving violently and vomiting out of their car windows were allowed to go free. People with histories of drunk driving, whose test results would have left most normal drinkers in a coma, couldn’t be convicted.

Here in Michigan, anyone refusing to take a breath test when a cop pulls you over for suspected drunk driving is punished. Six points are added to your license, and you lose your driver’s license for a year. That’s major! But how do you know your case won’t be built on faulty data? How can you be sure the breath test results from a poorly cared for machine aren’t going to make you look like a criminal? You can’t. And that’s where we come in.

The Kronzek Firm fiercely fights drunk driving allegations.

Drunk driving charges in Michigan aren’t slap-on-the-wrist charges anymore. DUIs are a serious offense in Michigan, and if you’re convicted, the results can be devastating. In addition to jail time (or even possible prison time) there are very high fines and fees, loss of your license, probation, court costs, attorney fees, increased insurance costs, loss of your vehicle, and a number of other penalties. Imagine how that can impact your ability to keep a job, not to mention how the resulting loss of income will negatively impact your family.

That’s why, here at The Kronzek Firm, we’ve made it our business to be the most aggressive DUI defense attorneys in mid-Michigan. We fight hard to defend your rights, make sure that the arresting officer in every case is following the law and using up-to-date and properly calibrated equipment, and that you aren’t being falsely accused. So if you’ve been arrested for a DUI and you need legal help, call 866 766 5245 immediately. We’re available 24/7 to assist you with this challenge.

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