Attorney Who Understands The Breath Testing Process In DUI Cases
The Vermont criminal courts place a high value on breath testing results in driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases. While a breath alcohol content level over the legal limit is virtually considered indisputable proof of a DUI violation, there are numerous problems with the Breathalyzer tests used to determine breath alcohol content (BAC).
Uncovering the scientific and legal problems associated with breath testing devices requires knowledge and skill. I am William V. Cristman, a St. Albans lawyer and principal at Cristman Law Office, PLLC. I have extensive experience challenging breath tests’ accuracy and reliability. I represent clients throughout Northern Vermont, and work toward establishing the problems with breath testing devices while striving toward defeating DUI charges. My firm also represents clients in cases involving blood testing, which usually occurs in DUI/Drug cases, or may occur in very serious cases involving serious bodily injury or death as a result of a car crash with an allegedly drunk driver, especially when the client has been hospitalized due to injuries received in an automobile accident.
Potential Problems With Breath Testing
In Vermont, the device used to test BAC levels is the DataMaster DMT. The machine works by using a chemical solution with a ‘known concentration’ of ethanol. It reads the ethanol level before testing a person, and if the ethanol concentration is within a certain range, it deduces that it is working properly and will give an accurate BAC reading.
While the DataMaster carries an aura or semblance of scientific objectivity, the operational philosophy is pseudo-scientific. The problems with the DataMaster DMT machine include a lack of traceability and certainty.
Lack Of Traceability Regarding Breath Testing Results
There are strict scientific standards for traceability of chemical compounds used in experiments such as breath testing. Commercially available pre-mixed solutions are required for scientifically certain traceability. Everything from the chemical compounds to the pipettes and beakers used to conduct experiments are regulated by national and international standards that include the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the Guides to Uncertainty in Measurements (GUM).
Vermont uses its own chemical solution, though the state is not qualified to mix its own solutions for this type of testing. For a scientifically valid test, the state would have to prove that its results can be traced back to the standards established by the scientific community.
The fact is, there is no way to determine with any certainty that the chemical solution mix in Vermont’s breath testing devices has any scientific accuracy.
Uncertainty Regarding Test Accuracy
The issue of traceability is closely related to the problem of uncertainty in scientific measurements. Unfortunately, in the manner in which Vermont performs its breath testing, there is no way to be certain of a test’s accuracy. For a scientific test to be valid, at least two samples need to be conducted in every test. Without multiple samples, and scientific uncertainty reporting, there can be no certainty of accuracy in the test result that the state wants to use to convict you of a DUI.