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Are DUI Tests Outdated in Seattle Washington?

Posted by Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney | Jul 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

Breath Testing in Seattle Washingto
You get pulled over by a cop in Washington. He thinks you're intoxicated, so he asks you to undergo a breath alcohol test. The test reveals a BAC over .08, the legal limit in the state. So the test results means that you're doomed to be convicted of DUI, right?

Not so fast. There's a possibility that the test methodology may be outdated.Think about it: if you wanted to find out whether you or a loved one was pregnant, you wouldn't want this important piece of information to be determined by whether a furry rabbit kicked the bucket. The same concept holds true with blood alcohol content tests: law enforcement agencies should only use the latest testing measures that meet currently accepted protocols. Otherwise, the results that obsolete tests produce might not be reliable - and their results could be thrown out of court.

This defense has been used successfully in trial courts in Washington. There are two basic ways that outdated test results can be problematic. First, the equipment that is being used in a given county, city, or other municipality may not be certified as accurate under international standards. If departments aren't updating their equipment regularly, this could lead to DUI test results that are flawed.

Secondly, the result of any blood alcohol test should be accompanied by a measure of uncertainty.  Much like opinion polls are reported with a degree of error (usually of plus or minus a small number of percentage points), a BAC test result is an estimate which must be presented with a description of the areas of variability that effect our guess of the true result.

If this second piece of data is not reported, a jury could be improperly influenced by believing that the result in absolute and 100% accurate - which is misleading.  Some might summarize the issue this way:  a breath test reading of .085 comes with an uncertainty level of 7%, the actual breath alcohol content could be between .079 and .091, which may be enough for a defendant to be acquitted or a case dismissed.

This notion of improper testing equipment is another reason why you should always obtain the services of a qualified DUI lawyer if you are arrested for driving under the influence in Washington.

About the Author

Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney

Highly rated by former clients, who praise his warm, knowledgeable courtside manner and his fierce determination to reduce or eliminate charges. An accomplished speaker, author, and leader in DUI defense statewide Kevin is well respected by judges, prosecutors, and other attorneys across the State of Washington for his expertise, integrity, and knowledge in the complicated forensic science area of impaired driving allegations.


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