Low blow: Faulty breathalyzers may have implicated thousands of ‘drunk drivers’

  • DUI is a serious offence in the US and most states enforce harsh penalties on erring drivers.
File photo used for representational purpose.
File photo used for representational purpose.

Just because a machine deemed you are too drunk to drive just because you blew into it may not mean you actually are. This is especially if the traffic cops used Alcotest 9510, a controversial breathalyzer that is now under scrutiny in the US state of Massachusetts for having a number of units being miscalibrated.

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has now ruled that around 27,000 persons who plead guilty to DUI or Driving Under Influence can now either withdraw their guilty plea or request for a new trial. All of them were tested by the Alcotest 9510 device which on its own is believed to work fine but its annual calibration and certification methodology by Massachusetts State Police Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT) between 2011 and 2014 may have not provided scientifically accurate results.

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The court also came down heavily on OAT for what it said were misconduct even though the agency has sought to clear its name.

DUI is a serious offence in the US and most states enforce harsh penalties on erring drivers. For repeat offenders or in instances which may have had tragic consequences, an accused can even face jail time with his or her driving license suspended.

First Published Date: 01 May 2023, 09:21 AM IST
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