Testimony given in DUI trials often relates to observational traits such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and difficulty with balance. Nevertheless, such evidence does not offer hard data. Chemical breath tests have become a major source of the hard data that is required to secure convictions.
However, the results of these tests are not always accurate. Skewed results of a chemical breath test can lead to wrongful convictions. Therefore, it is vital to explore the ways in which these things can go wrong. Here are four possibilities:
Insufficient operator training
Before administering breath tests, officers are required to have completed relevant training. The official device used in Minnesota is known as the Datamaster and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) are responsible for training officers in its use.
Officers are required to pass both a written and lab test. Furthermore, after their certification has expired, they must take approved recertification courses. Failure to do so means they are no longer eligible to use the device.
Issues with maintenance
Breathalyzer devices often require maintenance and recalibration. For example, batteries may need to be replaced or software updated. All maintenance on Datamaster devices must be either carried out or authorized by the BCA.
If a test shows signs of being repaired by unauthorized personal, subsequent results will likely be deemed invalid.
It is not uncommon for mouth alcohol to affect the results of breath tests. For example, medications, cough syrups and breath fresheners can all lead to false positives. Even more routinely consumed products such as gum, candy and tobacco can impact the reliability of tests.
It has been suggested that Datamaster devices have previously read alcohol content in the stomach, rather than blood alcohol concentration. Furthermore, some research indicates that tests results are being rounded up when they should be rounded down.
DUI convictions can have a major impact on your life. Therefore, it is vital to understand the law and any potential defenses when faced with such a charge.