In early May, retired state judge, Joseph Lisa, issued a report that challenges the validity of certain breathalyzer tests administered at traffic stops. Lisa was appointed by the state Supreme Court to lead hearings on a case against a state trooper, and the findings could mean that thousands of New Jersey DUI convictions and penalties could be thrown out. The report calls into question the subsequent validity of breath test results. According to WHEC News in New York, there have been many issues involving breathalyzer reliability in many other states as well, including Massachusetts and New York, and has led to millions of DUI arrests.
In Massachusetts, there are 20,000 case controversies. They claim that if breathalyzers are not calibrated properly, the test levels read higher, possibly resulting in jail sentences for people who do not deserve them. In 2014, a case in Massachusetts revealed that out of the state’s 392 breathalyzers, only two of them had been calibrated properly.
The breathalyzer in question is the Alcotest 9510. These costly devices are used for determining blood alcohol levels during sobriety tests. It is manufactured by Draeger, a German medical technology company, and is widely used by US law enforcement agencies. Draeger provided a report to their lawyers, which detailed that the code used to program these breathalyzers has variables that affect breath tests, which are not correctly addressed by its software and settings.
One of the variables is breath temperature, which changes during the day. If elevated, it can increase the results by as much as six percent if the device does not accurately compensate for the increase. Another issue is the air temperature that the breathalyzer is used in, since there are recommended temperature ranges for usage. There are also features that may create false positives. Furthermore, these devices may not age well as the fuel cells that measure alcohol levels wear out, especially if used frequently. Draeger recommends they be re-calibrated yearly.
The ongoing legal battle between Draeger and the judicial system has not slowed down. Critics of the Alcotest 9510 feel that the devices are not tested or calibrated properly by those who use them in the field. The company issued a cease-and-desist letter for their report after they submitted it to their lawyers. This stopped wider distribution. Further investigation into the software, code, and devices has been halted.
The breathalyzer is becoming a fundamental tool in law enforcement, but additional information is needed to determine whether this breathalyzer is flawed. In the meantime, there may be innocent people being charged for offenses they did not commit. Some could be serving jail time while others that were wrongly accused due to a faulty breathalyzer test fought the system, and had their previous convictions thrown out.
If you were administered a breathalyzer test at a DUI stop in South Jersey and were found guilty, your rights may have been violated. Contact the experienced Cherry Hill DUI lawyers at Gigliotti Law Group for the best possible outcome. Call our offices today at 844–742–7591 or contact us online today. We are conveniently located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas.