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Breathalyzer machines do not always work properly

If you are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, you could face serious consequences if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test. You may have a legitimate reason for your refusal, but keep in mind that a breathalyzer is not infallible. It is a piece of equipment, and equipment can run into unexpected problems.

The problem in Philadelphia

In 2016, a breathalyzer issue developed at the police department in Philadelphia, PA, when a private attorney discovered that the machines the department was using were not properly calibrated. The problem involved the solution that is used to establish the accuracy of blood alcohol readings. The attorney pointed out that the solution used in all the breathalyzers had expired. The machines were immediately taken offline. New bottles of solution were procured, the outdated solution was replaced, and the instruments were back online the same day.

The legal concerns

The matter was a concern for the district attorney’s office. It was estimated that the outdated solution, and, therefore, improper breathalyzer calibration, could have been used in 500 to 1,000 DUI cases. Defense attorneys could argue that the results of the testing in those cases might not be admissible in court. The district attorney would have to investigate.

Challenging results

As the incident in Philadelphia shows, breathalyzers are not perfect. In fact, there are various ways to challenge the results of blood alcohol content testing. If you refuse to take the breath test in the state of Wisconsin, you will have 10 days to request what is called a refusal hearing. If you do not attend this hearing, you will lose your driver’s license for at least one year. Unless you have a very good reason for refusing to take a blood test, perhaps it would be best to rely on other legal options. Remember that all aspects of your arrest will be thoroughly investigated. Procedures may not have been followed properly, for example, or the equipment may have failed. Breathalyzers do not always work as they should.

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