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The D.C. police are doing breath testing again

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In early 2010, the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police revealed a broken down system since 2008 for testing drunk driving suspects with breathalyzer machines. The metropolitan police scrapped the breath testing approach, and reverted mainly to urine testing, despite urine’s inability to show one’s blood alcohol level.

Now the metropolitan police have bought new breathalyzer machines to go into operation, rather than relying on blood testing, which, when performed properly, is superior to the error-ridden breathalyzer regime. However, rather than giving drunk driving suspects the due process option of blood tests (more reliable than breath tests), the D.C. government has favored the lower cost of breath testing over blood testing (lower cost than drawing and examining blood, and lower cost in terms of getting the necessary witnesses to trial, since blood testing requires at least the testimony of the blood drawer and blood examiner plus the arresting officer, whereas breath testing requires at least the testimony of the arresting officer and breath tester).

The emergency legislation that renews the breath testing regime and adds some harsher penalties is here. Thanks to a colleague for providing the foregoing legislation and newspaper links.