Sanders Law Firm
View Our Practice Areas

Report exposes breath test irregularities

Police departments in New Mexico and around the country usually charge motorists with driving under the influence after they fail a breath test. The portable breath-testing devices police officers use at the roadside and the more sophisticated equipment found in police stations detect alcohol by passing breath samples through a chemical solution, but questions have persisted for years about their reliability and accuracy. These questions prompted the New York Times to investigate the way breath tests are conducted around the country, and the newspaper found evidence of neglected maintenance and lax oversight in virtually every law enforcement agency they investigated.

During the course of the investigation, reporters interviewed hundreds of police officers, attorneys and scientists and pored over thousands of documents. They discovered that breath-testing equipment is almost never maintained properly and routinely filled with unauthorized chemical solutions. Experts say that this kind of negligence can lead to blood alcohol concentration readings that are as much as 40% higher than they should be.

The resulting story, which the newspaper published on Nov. 3, included accounts of rats nesting in breath-testing machines and police officers tampering with equipment. Questions about the reliability of breath test results have prompted judges to dismiss tens of thousands of DUI cases in recent years. In Massachusetts, 36,000 breath tests were excluded in what has been called the nation's largest ever purge of forensic evidence.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may study police reports and supporting documentation with particular care when drunk driving charges against their clients are based on breath test results. When law enforcement is not able to prove that the equipment used was maintained properly and recalibrated regularly, attorneys could seek to have DUI charges reduced or dismissed. Attorneys may also question the validity of breath tests when police officers failed to follow strict testing protocols or their clients suffer from a medical condition that could skew toxicology test results.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • NAFLA
  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 40 | Under 40
  • The American Society of Legal Advocates
  • Super Lawyers | Avvo Rating | Superb
  • Star Bar Of New Mexico
  • 10 Best | 2017 | Client Satisfaction
  • Top 10 Attorney And Practice Magazine's
  • distinguished Justice Advocates | top 1% attorneys in America
  • top listed in best Lawyers
  • rated by super lawyers
  • The National Trail Lawyers | Top 100
Email Us For A Response

Contact Us Today. Call 575-578-4392 or complete this form to schedule a free consultation with our legal experts.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Offices Conveniently Located in Roswell, Albuquerque & Hobbs

Roswell Office
701 West Country Club Road
Roswell, NM 88201

Toll Free: 866-755-7229
Phone: 575-578-4392
Fax: 575-622-5853
Map & Directions

Albuquerque Office
4801 Lang NE
Suite 110
Albuquerque, NM 87109

Toll Free: 866-755-7229
Phone: 505-798-2588
Map & Directions

Hobbs Office
732 E. Michigan
Suite 500
Hobbs, NM 88240

Toll Free: 866-755-7229
Phone: 575-318-2887
Fax: 575-393-0565
Map & Directions

Las Cruces Office
1990 E Lohman Ave
Las Cruces, NM 88001

Phone: 575-222-1111
Map & Directions

Ruidoso Office
1100 Sudderth Dr
Ruidoso, NM 88345

Phone: 575-222-1111
Map & Directions