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Breathalyzers in Ventura County found unreliable

 Posted on April 21, 2011 in DUI

Hundreds of DUI cases have been called into question in Ventura County after months of faulty readings were discovered. Deputies are required to conduct tests to confirm the accuracy of a reading. Law enforcement first noticed a faulty reading in January. As many as eight devices have shown to provide erratic readings. The breathalyzers remained in use until last week.

The breathalyzers in question were purchased in December. Last week, the county pulled all 128 devices from service. The discovery of inaccurate readings may impact a large number of DUI cases including a number of California DUI convictions in the county. The manufacturer of the Alco-Sensor V breathalyzers reportedly has acknowledged the defect in the devices and claims the problem will be fixed.

Roadside breathalyzer readings taken with the devices have no evidentiary value in court. However, some individuals arrested for DUI may have decided to plead guilty based upon the faulty breathalyzer results. The county elected to begin using the device to obtain an instant reading of breath alcohol content in suspected DUI cases.

Public reliance on technology may have led many people charged with DUI to plead out their case without reviewing the case with an experienced DUI attorney. Some individuals charged and convicted as a result of the faulty devices may have already served jail time, paid fines and performed community service as a result of the flawed devices.

Ventura County officials say they are reviewing DUI cases arising during the period between January 20 and March 31. Ventura County law enforcement says a defective mouthpiece caused the irregular readings in the devices. Law enforcement agencies in the county reportedly are using an older model of the device, the Alco-Sensor IV.

Source: Ventura County Star, "Defective breathalyzer could lead to tossing out hundreds of DUI convictions," Raul Hernandez 19 Apr 2011

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