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Report raises questions about breath test accuracy

A report in a major national newspaper has called the accuracy of breath tests into question. More than 30,000 breath test results have been thrown out of criminal cases in two states because of a lack of oversight or human error. Breath testing devices that have not been properly calibrated may give blood alcohol content readings as much as 40% higher than accurate. People in Texas who are facing criminal drunk driving charges might be able to challenge the admissibility of breath testing with the help of a criminal defense lawyer.

The report was published in the New York Times following an investigation about the problems with roadside DWI stops and breath tests. Reporters conducted interviews with more than 100 police officers, scientists, executives and lawyers as part of the investigation. They also reviewed tens of thousands of pages of court records, corporate papers, contracts, emails and other documents.

There are a number of ways a breath test can give an inaccurate reading. The machine may be improperly calibrated or simply too old to continue working correctly. Sometimes, there are errors in a device's programming, or poor maintenance of the device leads to inaccurate readings. With some specific machines, a driver using a breath mint at the time of testing can skew readings. Inaccurate breath test results could lead to the prosecution of people for drunk driving offenses when they were not, in fact, driving drunk.

People who are facing DWI charges in Texas might want to schedule a meeting with a lawyer. A lawyer who practices criminal defense law may help by gathering evidence in support of the client or by interviewing parties with knowledge in order to build a defense for trial. A lawyer might be able to negotiate a plea bargain or, in some cases, argue against the admissibility at trial of certain prosecution evidence, like breath test results.

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