A DUI conviction in Washington can result in penalties including steep fines, loss of driver's license, jail time, and other conditions. In addition, a DUI can result in a permanent criminal record that could affect future job opportunities and more. A blood alcohol test is a critical element in these cases. Many people assume that law enforcement always accurately tests blood alcohol levels. According to mistakes made in recent cases, blood alcohol tests are not always accurate.
Although the incidents did not take place in Washington State, the story might be of interest to Seattle readers. According to a report, law enforcement in Washington D.C. convicted nearly 400 people of DUI charges based on faulty blood alcohol readings. It was later discovered that the machines were inaccurately calibrated and results showed higher blood-alcohol concentrations than the drivers actually had.
Four men are challenging their convictions on the grounds that the devices were inaccurately calibrated, producing erroneously high results. The men will receive payments ranging from $2,001 to $8,001, according to court papers. The charges against each of the drivers have been withdrawn.
The head of the police officers' union in the area said the events caused significant damage to the credibility of the District and to the office of the attorney general. Several other groups have challenged their convictions but haven't accepted payment offers.
These events are a reminder that law enforcement sometimes makes mistakes and every element of a DUI arrest should be questioned including the stop, any field sobriety testing, and blood alcohol testing. An experienced attorney can help to ensure that your rights are protected if you have been charged with drunken driving.
Source: The Washington Post, "DC agrees to pay about $20,000 to 4 motorists to resolve allegations over flawed breath-tests," May 7, 2012