Wednesday, March 10, 2010

80% of DUI breath gizmos having accuracy problems - same manufacturer supplies San Diego California Police Department

A huge problem with some breath-alcohol testing machines used in the District could overturn hundreds of DUI / drunk driving cases.

Washington D.C. Police reports an audit revealed that 8 of the 10 Intoxilyzer 5000 breathalyzers used since 2008 had issues with their accuracy.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says those breathalyzers were generating inaccurate results between October 2008 until they were taken out of service earlier this month.

"It's disappointing in some sense but I'm happy we caught it," says Lanier, "and happy we caught it when we did."

Those malfunctioning units, manufactured by Kentucky-based CMI, Inc., have been repaired and are now fully functioning.

David Benowitz, a local defense attorney with the Law Offices of David Benowitz, says that he wasn't surprised to hear that several breathalyzers weren't functioning properly.

In a released statement, Benowitz says he knew something was wrong when the Office of the Attorney General started dismissing DWI cases.

D.C. police are reviewing cases that could be affected, and Benowitz says that hundreds of convictions, dating back to 2008, could be overturned.

"This shows a callous disregard for the rights of D.C. drivers," says Jason Kalfat, an attorney from the same office as Benowitz, in a released statement. "For most defendants a breathalyzer score is the single most significant piece of evidence that can put you in jail, cost you money and damage your career."

Stephen Mercer, a seasoned criminal defense attorney, will be calling for independent investigation into the flawed units.