When people in Illinois are suspected of driving under the influence by law enforcement, they could be given a breath test. However, that breath test might not be accurate. According to an investigation by The New York Times, over 30,000 breath tests were dismissed in New Jersey and Massachusetts after a number of problems with them were discovered.
Those problems included devices that were not calibrated correctly and that gave readings 40% higher than they should have been. Some were not maintained correctly while others were simply too old. One had a hole drilled in it after officers felt that it was giving results that were on the low end. Some gave readings that could be disrupted if a person was using a breath mint, and others had programming errors. As part of the investigation, journalists went over thousands of documents and spoke to more than 100 people in law enforcement, law and science among other fields.
Inaccurate results can mean that drunk drivers are not caught, either because the device registers the blood alcohol content wrong or because the case is thrown out with others that have errors. It can also mean that drivers who have not broken the law are taken into custody and convicted.
A person who is facing a DUI charge might want to talk to an attorney about how the case would be approached. The attorney might consider whether the breath test was administered correctly as well as whether any other tests might have been mishandled, such as a blood test. The strategy might also depend upon the circumstances and whether the person has multiple offenses in the past. In that case, the focus might be on getting the lightest penalty possible; if the person has never faced charges before, the attorney might try to get them dropped.