What Are The Machine And Human Errors That Can Affect Breathalyzer Machine?
The breathalyzer machine itself is very easy to operate, as it essentially walks you through the process. However, you do have to be certified to operate the machine, which requires a certain number of training hours. The machine tells them when to have the defendant blow into the machine, and it tells them when the test is sufficient. I went over the procedure that must be followed, but I can’t really comment anything beyond that.
There are some environmental factors that could come into play. For example, if you have one of those machines in the middle of a distillery and you’re asking someone to blow into it, I am sure that there are some environmental factors that could come into play. But every time I see a breathalyzer machine, it’s in the bowels of a police department (usually in the booking room). So, I don’t know of any environmental or electromagnetic forms of interference. But once again, this is where the expert would come into play. An expert might know, for example, that if the machine is used within 150 feet of a power line, then it could be affected by electromagnetism and the validity of its readings could be disturbed.
The defense attorney can watch the procedure leading up to the point where the person blows into the machine, and they can make sure that everything was complied with up to that point. However, that is pretty much where the defense attorney’s expertise ends. The technical issues involving the machine itself need to be handled by experts. If an expert identified a factor that could have affected the validity of the readings, then the attorney could incorporate that information into a defense. If the case goes to trial, you could call the expert to testify as to the validity of the result and whether or not it could have been disturbed by an electrical issue, electromagnetic issue, or environmental issue. If you can create reasonable doubt based on that expert’s testimony, then you’ve done your job.
Additional Information About Breath Tests In DUI Cases
The general understanding is that if you blow into the machine and it shows a concentration above 0.08, then there’s a presumption that you’re under the influence of alcohol. If you blow into the machine and it shows a concentration between 0.06 and 0.08, then the results in and of themselves don’t support a presumption one way or the other. If you submit to the breath test and it shows a concentration of 0.06, then there is a presumption that you’re not under the influence of alcohol.
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