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Maintenance scandal brings BAC test results under question

Posted by Saul Steinberg | Feb 05, 2020 | 0 Comments

Because of per se laws in most states, prosecutors often need very little evidence to obtain a conviction for drunk driving. In New Jersey, like most states, a blood alcohol concentration of .08 is the per se limit for legal impairment. In other words, if you register .08 on a breath test, authorities need no other evidence to conclude you are impaired behind the wheel.

Obtaining a BAC result is as simple as requiring you to blow into a breathalyzer device, which measures the level of alcohol in your lungs and correlates that to the level of alcohol throughout your body. Learning that your BAC is .08 or higher may cause you to admit you were impaired and accept the consequences. However, you may be shocked to learn that many devices for measuring your BAC have serious flaws.

Defective tests and false reports

Breath tests are the go-to method for collecting evidence against a person suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. They are simple to use, less invasive than blood tests and accepted as reliable across the country. However, serious questions about the reliability of those devices demand answers. New Jersey is among several states dealing with backlash from a report that presents evidence challenging the calibration of certain breath testing devices.

If police used a breath machine to test your BAC, you may have good reason to question the results. In hundreds of cases across the country, investigators have learned the following about vendors police agencies use to maintain breath-testing devices:

  • Vendors responsible for calibrating and maintaining breath-testing machines falsely reported having completed routine inspections.
  • Investigators discovered that auditors cut and paste information to fabricate the results of calibration tests on breath testing devices police use on those arrested for drunk driving.
  • Some maintenance reporting methods involved recording the same results for numerous devices without testing each device.
  • One document audit found discrepancies that invalidated more than 50 BAC tests.
  • Courts in New Jersey and a neighboring state have thrown out over 30,000 BAC test results because of breath test errors and failures in monitoring the testing process.

While police claim to have recalibrated and recertified many of their BAC devices, this may not instill confidence in you that your BAC test results were accurate. In fact, with so much at stake, you would be wise to seek legal counsel with the experience to challenge BAC testing and fight to bring your case to the most positive outcome possible.

About the Author

Saul Steinberg

Saul J. Steinberg was born and raised in Camden, NJ. He has practiced in Camden County since first being admitted to the bar. Since 1990, he has also handled cases in Southeastern Pennsylvania.The emphasis of Saul's practice is in Criminal and Civil litigation. He has handled major criminal and c...


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