Problems with DUI breath test machines can convict innocent people

| Jan 29, 2021 | DUI Defense |

In most DUI cases, the breath or blood test results are one of the key pieces of evidence. Manufacturers, police departments and prosecutors in Chicago and across the country swear that these machines are scientifically accurate and can almost always tell when a driver is over the legal limit for alcohol in their system.

However, we regularly hear about errors in breath test devices that make a driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) seem higher than it really was. As a result, people get wrongfully convicted for drinking and driving. The court suspends their driver’s license, orders them to pay big fines, and may require them to undergo counseling for alcoholism. They might even have to spend time in jail.

Bad breath test machine convicts man of DUI

In the latest example, a man from outside of Illinois is suing his state police department over his wrongful DUI conviction. The man’s attorney says that Michigan State Police used an Intoximeter device on the man after arresting him in 2019. The device supposedly measured his BAC at .13, despite the driver’s insistence that he had only consumed two beers. Based on this “evidence,” the man was convicted and sentenced to 18 months of probation. The judge also ordered the man to attend counseling and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings four days a week for his alleged “addiction” and perform 240 hours of community service.

Then the police told the prosecutor that the Intoximeter gave an incorrect BAC reading. The convicted man’s attorney says that the state police had discovered problems with their breathalyzer devices but delayed revealing this until many people, including his client, were convicted of DUI. The lawyer estimates that hundreds, and potentially thousands, of people were affected.

Fortunately, the man in this story got his conviction overturned. But not before he had to serve part of his sentence.

Don’t be afraid to challenge the evidence

Stories like this show that you should take nothing for granted in a DUI case, including the breath test results. If your defense attorney finds anything suspicious about the evidence or how the police acquired it, they will use that information to your advantage.