Calibration Issues with the Breathalyzer Machine in Weld County, Colorado, a cautionary tale.
PAST PROBLEMS WITH THE BREATHALYZER MACHINE IN WELD COUNTY, COLORADO
June 12, 2019
The results of a breathalyzer test are only as reliable as the machine performing the test. Several years ago, a breathalyzer machine in Weld County was not calibrated correctly and as a result, was delivering unreliable tests results to the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley. To make matters worse, law enforcement officers using the machine failed to notice that the machine was not calibrated correctly.
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment creates the rules and regulations that govern how breathalyzer machines (called “EBAT” tests in the CDPHE regs) must be maintained and utilized by law enforcement.
Among other things, these regulations require a technician from the Colorado Department of Health to calibrate all breathalyzer machines. From August 30, 2013 through January 21, 2014, a breathalyzer machine in southern Weld County was not calibrated properly and as a result, was delivering unreliable results. An investigation by the Department of Health revealed that the technicians certifying the machine had failed to enter the “target value” of .090-.110 into the breathalyzer machine during the certification process, as mandated by the regulations. Just like a scale, ruler, or anything else designed to measure something, if calibration is off, the results are off. Prior to a breath test during a DUI stop, a police officer will run a calibration check on an breathalyzer machine to ensure it is properly calibrated and working correctly. The mistake made by the Department of Health staff with regard to the calibration was only compounded by the fact that police officers performing breath tests on this machine failed to notice the unacceptable calibration check results prior to doing breathalyzer tests on people that were about to be charged with DUI. The Department of Health noted that the following law enforcement agencies performed breathalyzer tests with the machine when it was not properly calibrated:
24 tests by the Colorado State Patrol
1 test by Dacono Police Department
4 tests by the Frederick Police Department
2 tests by the Firestone Police Department
2 tests by the Weld County Sherriff’s Office
(CDPHE PRESS RELEASE, CDPHE LSD 05292014.)
What sparked this investigation was not a police officer, not a Department of Health staff member, but a criminal defense attorney who noticed that the temperature of the calibration solution on a particular breathalyzer machine was off. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Health conducted a comprehensive review of all breathalyzer machines and noticed the above issue with the machine in south Weld County.
Mr. Merson is a criminal defense attorney that has worked in the courthouse in Greeley representing people from all over Weld County for over 13 years. At the courthouse in Greeley, he has handled thousands of cases and conducted over 100 jury trials, quite of few of which involved DUI allegations. He has extensive experience defending DUI cases and understands the importance of verifying reliability when it comes to breathalyzer tests in a DUI case. He knows the Department of Health regulations and knows where to look within the results of the breathalyzer machine to determine if the machine was properly calibrated.
You Will Need An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney.
If you have been accused of DUI or DWAI and your future is in jeopardy, you will want to use a lawyer that understands the vulnerabilities of the breathalyzer machine. Choosing an experienced lawyer is the best decision you can make early on in your case. Mr. Merson defense people with pending DUI charges in Longmont, Berthoud, Erie, Firestone, Frederick, Lyons, Mead, Niwot, or Dacono. To schedule a free consultation, call The Merson Law Office at 970-219-2923 or 303-776-3511. Or fill out an intake form here.
Merson Law Office, LLC 636 Coffman, Suite 200 Longmont, Colorado 80501 firstname.lastname@example.org (970) 219-2923 or (303) 776-3511 Hours: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
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