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Know how to use a breath test? … Many officers don’t!

Breathalyzer TestShockingly, many officers don’t know how to properly administer a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) Breath Test.

When the test results get skewed, the officer blames the driver, accusing them of playing games and “refusing” the test — when in fact it was their own fault!

A recent client was pulled over for weaving and charged with DUI and refusing a chemical (breath) test — a serious charge that carries mandatory jail time and suspension of drivers license for a year.

I subpoenaed the arresting officer to the DMV hearing, and also a former sheriff’s criminalist, to challenge the refusal allegation. Their testimony showed that my client had in fact cooperated, providing three separate and valid breath samples.

When I questioned the officer, he revealed that his tests resulted in “Insufficient Sample” readings from the breathalyzer machine. He interpreted this to mean that my client was not blowing hard enough into the machine — i.e., she was playing games, being uncooperative, refusing to take the test.

Many police don’t know how to use a breath test machine

Even many DUI attorneys don’t understand the technicalities of the breath test!

The problem is that “Insufficient Sample” is really a misnomer.

It should say, “Incomplete Sample.” Here’s why. Title 17 requires an officer to collect at least two breath test samples. Both readings must be within two points of each in order other to be valid — and must be taken within three minutes of each other.

If an officer is filling out paperwork and doesn’t administer the second test within three minutes, the machine will “time out” and print the (misleading) message: “Insufficient Sample.”

Many officers and attorneys don’t know this!

The only way to discover this is to go to the crime lab to see the usage log, which shows the results for each suspect. In my client’s case, she gave a sufficient sample, but the officer did not get a second and third sample in a timely fashion, so his arrest report simply showed “Insufficient sample” three times.

We won the DMV refusal hearing — my client’s license was not suspended — and got the Prosecutor to dismiss the refusal allegation and reduce the charges to a “wet reckless driving” charge.

Please share your COMMENTS below.

10 Responses

  1. Bonnie says:

    This really wowed..

    • Beautifuly says:

      I beg to differ. Cops and foremr cops are held to a higher standard and often receive sentences much harsher than the average person. I personally know several officers that were taken to jail for DUI, lost their jobs and did some time for an offense that probably would have been thrown out for the random public. The days of the good ole boy’ system is quiclky fading aways. Also, I have given breaks to numerous people who should have gone to jail for things such as DUI, or received traffic tickets and given them a ride home or called them a ride home.

      • Munira says:

        The difference bteeewn pot and booze is this.With booze, you can be falling down drunk at 11 PM and by 11 AM the next day you are sober. You may have a hangover but you are sober.With pot, depending upon how much you use and how frequent you use, you could test positive for pot up to a month after your last use. That is because the THC is fat soluble and your body can store it up, releasing it slowly over the next few days or weeks. As far as measuring it, some states have a zero tolerance view and any amount of THC in your test is sufficient to convict you. The best way around it I have heard is this. Do not DUI LOL.

  2. Google says:

    btw where do you order those articles? or you just write them manually?

    • Jon Artz says:

      I dictate these, and my marketing guy cleans them up and posts them.

      • Jennyrose says:

        Thanks, Trent. The angle takes away context and to me amoslt personifies the car in a crime scene investigation where the car is the victim. It looks naked and helpless with all of its parts exposed. Maybe this would be conveyed even more if there were fluids leaking out onto the pavement and I’d have to give a graphic content warning.The balcony is a great vantage point when news literally comes to the doorstep.

    • Gipsipipir says:

      Alcoholism is a Disease and more money needs to go toward getintg these people the help they really need. If the person is in denial then Jail time. Bill W said some people will never be cured or fixed. Funding is needed to create better afordable detox centers and health insurance should cover this. Automobiles need to be designed to have breath meters so engine will not start with drunk driver behind the wheel. Hybrid cars are the rage but no one cares about this adding this technology, but car manufacturers can install a GPS in every new car folks!

  3. […] Strange but true, many officers don’t understand the mechanics and limitations of a handheld breath machine. They accuse the driver of playing games and not blowing sufficiently, when in fact they administered the breath test incorrectly and got skewed results. Here’s a true story. […]

  4. […] created some serious incentives to encourage you. If you refuse to take, or fail to complete, a PAS breath test, blood test, or other chemical test at the time of a DUI arrest, here are the consequences in […]

  5. […] did you know that some officers don’t know how to properly administer a breath machine? If they screw up, and you get a false positive, would you know how to prove it? How many years […]

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