While it probably won't surprise many of our Virginia readers, the Supreme Court for one other state has ruled that breathalyzer devices cannot always be relied upon to provide accurate readings. This ruling could result in a great many DUI cases being thrown out.
It was found that proper maintenance procedures were not always followed concerning the Intoxilyzer 8000. One individual arrested due to the results of such a device insisted from the very beginning that the results did not seem accurate.
At the time of his February 2013 arrest, there were no rules pertaining to calibration settings for this device in Oklahoma. "For five years, they operated without the rules," stated his attorney. The attorney also noted that the court decision does not mean that all the results from breathalyzer tests were insufficient.
This is also not the first time that such devices have been challenged due to not having proper procedures in place. And it appears that all such devices require intermittent maintenance and calibration.
It's possible that similar problems concerning machine maintenance or calibration could result in wrongful arrests in Virginia. Though it is indeed important to keep drunken drivers off of the road, we still need to balance that need with the rights of those accused. Evidence used to convict needs to be reliable.
DUI defense attorneys will challenge breath test results or any other piece of evidence used against a client that may prove to be unreliable. This is necessary in that the penalties for a DUI conviction can result in jail time or significant fines.
Source: Fox 25, "Oklahoma Supreme Court rules breathalyzer tests not always accurate," Kisha Henry, Feb. 5, 2014