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D.C.’s breathalyzer failing grade should raise tougher scrutiny of breathalyzer tests nationwide

Feb 28, 2010 D.C.’s breathalyzer failing grade should raise tougher scrutiny of breathalyzer tests nationwide

Image from National Institute of Standards & Technology.

Breathalyzer tests are junk science. At best, breathalyzer machines should only be used to determine whether to obtain a more thorough blood alcohol screening, through a blood test (or a balloon test, according to one forensic chemist whom I respect very much).  This is imperfectly akin to a drug dipstick’s positive result not being sufficient, and instead needing a lab test of the urine sample at that point.

Underlining the breathalyzer junk science is the Washington, D.C., police chief’s revelation this past Friday that eight of ten Intoxilyzer 5000 machines in the city had been delivering inaccurate results between October 2008 and February 2010.

What does this mean for people already convicted for DWI from arrests during the October 2008 through February 2010 timeframe? It means they should contact their lawyers immediately about filing for relief from the court from this blunderous situation. Jon Katz.

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