Faulty Breathalyzer Essay, Research Paper
There are many good resons why the breath test is a good idea and should be continued being used by law enforcement officers. They ensure public safety, provide an instant accurate reading, and reduce the amount of drunk drivers on the road. However, this test is not always accurate, can be affected by outside factors, and can be harmful to the public. Thus it is unjust to have a presumably drunk driver take the test. As a result, the use of the breath test should be suspended until it can be made more consistent in it s accurate readings, also reliable, as well as stricter rules on how and who calibrates the tester.
There are several instances in which the breath tester has failed to give accurate readings. An incident occurred in one case that involved Dave Debusschere and DWI. He was arrested in Long Island in July of 1986 after taking a breath analyzer test voluntarily. His results were a BAC of .16%. It was argued that the Breathalyzer used was “antiquated, unreliable and capable of being calibrated incorrectly.” The Breathalyzer evidence was ignored and he was found not guilty. Attorney Richard Essen and his staff handle about 1,000 DWI cases annually. He attacks the reliability of the breath analyzer and advises that all subjects be aware of its possible inaccuracies. This particular case exemplifies the possible faults which a tester can posses.
There are many factors, which can affect a breath test itself. By observing the individual for 15 minutes prior to the breath test, the officer is assured the person did not put any object in their mouth, belch or regurgitate, (all) of which would effect the accuracy of the breath test, Chase said. There are several cases where something other than the tester affected the results. An 18 year-old man tried to eat his underwear in the hope that the cotton fabric would absorb alcohol before he took a breath test. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Bill Robinson collared David Zurfluh after he ran from his vehicle, which had been seen weaving down the highway. While sitting in the back of the patrol car, Mr. Zurfluh tried to eat his shorts, Constable Robinson told the court. Mr. Zurfluh said he ripped the crotch out of his shorts, stuffed the fabric in his mouth and then spit it out. The Breathalyzer registered 0.08% blood alcohol, the legal limit, and prosecutors were unable to convict Daniel of driving under the influence. In another case, pertinent to crucial timing of a breath test, involved a testimony given by expert defense witness Jay Zimmerman, The accused had eaten a bacon cheeseburger and fries almost an hour previous to an accident that he was involved in previous to his arrest. About two hours later he took two consecutive breath analyzer tests, ten minutes apart. Zimmerman testified that the high fat content of the meal had delayed alcohol absorption into the bloodstream significantly. His results were .15% and .16%, respectively. He was found guilty, however the conviction was reversed. Such factors might give leeway to those who pass the test but should have failed, which could be harmful to the public.
Tests have been done to determine the validity of the breath tester. Peer reviewed and uncontested studies (LaBianca, Simpson, Thompson et.al.) prove a margin of error of 50 % when comparing breath test estimates of Blood alcohol content to actual Blood alcohol content! That means a breathalyzer reading of .1 % represents a Blood alcohol content level somewhere between .05 % and .15%, hardly a level of precision on which to base an irrefutable presumption of guilt! Many people would accept the explanation that the breath test is very scientific, fair to accused drivers and reasonable.