Washington DUI Breath-test Upgrades

The Dräger Alcotest is the first upgrade in the last 20 years that Washington Law enforcement is making to their DUI breath-test machines. The new Dräger Alcotest 9510 (above right) runs microsoft software with a touchscreen for easier use, and more accuracy when testing the alcohol content in a person's breath.  The new machine can scan drivers licenses to provide perfect accuracy of personal information, and then prompts officers through questions on the situation which led to the test.  The new machines also offer instant online cataloging, instead of the weekly manual gathering of results as many machines failed to make currently.

The old datamaster would test the breath-alcohol content based off of an alcohol mixure created by lab tech's weekly. the chemical solution would be put into the machine as a baseline, so the machine then could compare the results of a person's breath, with that of the mixure.  The problems in the past with this approach were many.  For years the technicians would go down to the liquor store and purchase alcohol with the stated proof on the bottles.  What independent testing found was that the alcohol waried widely in Proofs, but passed the Liquor Control Board to allow it to be sold as such.  When using a varying baseline to compare the reults of such breath odor alcohol the State of Washington was incarcerating individuals on shoddy science.

In the Seattle times report of the upgrades, it brings up the State Patrol being under fire in the past for using the DataMaster machines, as well for their DUI protocols.

In 2008, three King County District Court judges issued a blistering 29-page ruling, saying that the lab engaged in “fraudulent and scientifically unacceptable” practices that have compromised breath-test readings used to prosecute suspected drunken drivers.

The judges found that a “multiplicity of errors,” including how breath-test results were analyzed and verified at the lab, affected thousands of cases in recent years.  Specifically, the judges criticized the work of the former state toxicologist and the former lab manager. The allegations included errors to the way the breath-test machines were calibrated.  What was happening was many tests to check validity of the baseline alcohol samples were signed off as "Tested" independently when in fact they were not.

The State Patrol says the new machines utilize a dry gas standard instead of the liquid solution to verify that the instrument is working properly. The Dräger’s dry gas contains a known concentration of alcohol, allowing the instrument to verify that a suspect’s breath alcohol is being measured accurately and reliably.  The defense bar whom now has access to these devices are presently testing independently the working and accuracy of the devices as we feel it is important that innocent individuals do not lose the right to drive a vehicle, and are incarcerated without reliable evidence.

If you find yourself with a DUI, contact us to help you fight it today.