Hundreds of People in San Francisco Could Escape DUI Charges

Posted on Mar 7, 2012 in DUI/DWI, Legislation, National Issues

Many people convicted of DUIs in San Francisco could be getting a lucky break. Police are being accused of faulty breathalyzer tests spanning ten years after uncovered records show the machines were not properly maintained or calibrated.

Jeff Adachi, a San Francisco public defender, said in a statement that “What we learned is that the police department was not testing these devices for accuracy. … They’re supposed to test these devices every 10 days and that wasn’t happening.”

Attorney Peter Fitzpatrick discovered the problem when his client took two breath tests an hour apart with very different results. He said there was a five-point difference in his client’s readings. “(It’s) a huge discrepancy that no criminalist would ever say is reasonable,” Fitzpatrick said.

When people drink, alcohol is absorbed in the blood and carried through the brain to the liver and heart before diffusing in the lungs. Once in the lungs, it is exhaled in our breath and detected by the breathalyzer machine. However, only a properly calibrated machine can read the results correctly.

All 20 breathalyzer machines currently in use by the SFPD have been pulled off the street. Additionally, only those who were convicted based on the initial street breathalyzer test will have the chance to get their case expunged.

CBS legal analyst Jack Ford explained the likely course of events: “Most of the DUI cases out there, they go back to headquarters and then there’s another test, either the traditional breathalyzer or even a blood test. So anybody who was found being over the limit based upon those two, you know, they won’t get away with it. It’s cases where it was based solely on this early testing out on the street that we’re going to see … hundreds of these cases apparently are going to go away.”

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, call Bloom Legal at 504-599-9997 for immediate assistance and a case evaluation.

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