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Breath Test Results Thrown Out Due to Officer Error

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Jun 04, 2013 | 0 Comments

It's a common misconception that if you test above the legal blood alcohol level, you will necessarily be convicted of a DUI.

Blood alcohol devices like Breathalyzer tests are notoriously inaccurate. A variety of factors can affect the effectiveness of such devices, and any of these errors may lead to the tests being thrown out as was the case recently in Chelan County.

Chelan County District Court Judge Roy Fore was forced to throw out breath test results last week in a drunk driving case involving driver Cameron Adams, reports The Seattle Times.

During the arrest, the Wenatchee police officer had Adams blow into a breath test device seven times using two different devices. The officer then reported only the last two measurements of 0.159 and 0.161 percent or roughly twice the legal driving limit.

Judge Fore ruled that the breath tests were tarnished because the officer failed to wait the required 15 minutes between each attempt. Given that Adams was tested seven times, if protocols were followed, the officer should have taken almost two hours to administer all seven tests.

Along with failing to follow protocols in administering the tests, other common problems with blood alcohol tests that can result in the tests being thrown out can involve:

  • Uncalibrated device
  • Improperly administered device
  • Problems handing evidence
  • Inadequately informing the driver of the implied consent warnings prior to the test

You should remember that just because a blood alcohol test is thrown out, prosecutors may still rely on other evidence like field sobriety tests, physical symptoms consistent with alcohol consumption and erratic or poor driving to help support a DUI conviction.  A person could still be convicted of the offense of DUI without a breath or blood test under the "affected by" prong of the DUI statute.

If you face a DUI charge in the Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue or greater King County area, you should contact a DUI attorney at Wolff Criminal Defense. It can be very difficult for defendants to get a fair trial without experienced counsel on their side. Contact our firm at 425-284-2000 and don't fight your fight alone.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


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