A discrepancy in the certification of breath-test machines may lead to the dismissal of hundreds of DUI arrests across Nebraska. State officials and defense attorneys agree that the certification provided by the State of Nebraska is insufficient and needs to be corrected. However, the two sides differ significantly on how important an issue the discrepancy is.
The issue arose when a Gering, Nebraska defense attorney discovered a discrepancy on the lab-notarized certification confirming the accuracy of the liquid solution used to calibrate the machines. State officials acknowledge the discrepancy but argue it is a paperwork error and not an indictment on the accuracy of the breath-test machines. The defense bar disagrees, believing that the certificate issue renders any blood alcohol content evidence collected by the breath-test machines unreliable.
There are at least a few Nebraska judges that agree with the defense attorneys. There have been several reports of some DUI cases being thrown out in the counties that rely on these breathalyzer machines. This could have far-reaching consequences given the number of arrests that have relied on these machines. According to a Lincoln prosecutor, this certification issue could affect more than 200 cases across the state.
The certification controversy involves the accuracy of breathalyzer machines operated in police stations and detox facilities. The results of roadside breath-test devices are not at issue, although those tests are rarely admissible in court regardless. Nebraska law requires that state agencies test the accuracy of breathalyzer machines by putting a “known solution” into the device to ensure it accurately reports alcohol content. Once the agency confirms the breath-test machine is accurate, it signs off on a written certification to that effect. The controversy arose when it was discovered the certifications had been signed by a supervisor and not the person who conducted the tests.
Many in law enforcement are outwardly confident, including Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine. “We're anticipating people challenging it, but I don't think it's fatal to these cases,” said Kleine. However, until the certification issue is sorted out, many law enforcement agencies in Nebraska are seeking warrants to draw blood for blood-alcohol concentration testing.
Washington State has their own set of requirements for breath-test machines. There are only three types of breath-test equipment authorized under Washington law: The DataMaster, the DataMasterCDM, and the DragerAlcotest 9510. Like Nebraska, Washington requires law enforcement agencies to have their equipment certified by using “known solution” tests. By statute, Washington State is required to post the results of these solution tests online. The state also provides access to simulator certifications and machine records.
The breath-test equipment used by the state to determine your blood alcohol content is usually accurate. However, it is the prosecutor's job to prove it. In some cases, an error or a lost certificate can be the difference between conviction and acquittal. An attorney with experience in DUI defense will hold the prosecutor to their duty to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If you've been charged with a DUI in the Seattle area and want an experienced attorney that will fight for you, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi today for your free consultation.