Faulty Breathalyzers in Ventura County Could Affect Hundreds of DUI Cases

Posted By Thomas V. Wallin || 5-May-2011

California DUI As reported by the Los Angeles Times, faulty readings on several breathalyzer devices have prompted the Ventura County Sheriff's Department to remove 125 breathalyzer machines from service, and prosecutors will reexamine some California DUI convictions.

The Alco-Sensor V breathalyzers, which are manufactured by Missouri-based Intoximeters Inc., were purchased in December through a state grant and were used by sheriff's deputies and local police departments throughout the county.

To date, the District Attorney's office has identified 294 court cases where Alco-Sensor V Breathalyzer devices were used to measure blood-alcohol levels of the defendants.

As reported by the Ventura County Star, Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Frawley has acknowledged that this will affect DUI defendants arrested in that county. He said, "Some cases will likely be dismissed based upon issues with the Alco-Sensor V devices."

Frawley said prosecutors will not oppose legal motions to withdraw guilty or no contest pleas in cases where the Alco-Sensor V test results were "substantially relied upon" to prove the charges.

This story is particularly unsettling as it suggests that neither the manufacturer nor law enforcement rigorously tested these devices before they were deployed.

As we have noted previously in this blog, breathalyzers are subject to a number of problems including accuracy, calibration, and maintenance.

Therefore, if you are arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence in California after undergoing chemical testing, it is important to contact an experienced California DUI attorney .

A seasoned DUI defense attorney can assist you with hiring a toxicologist to review the breath calibration and maintenance logs or even cross-examine the officer to ensure that the test was performed correctly and that there was not an error with the machine.