Prosecutors in Washington, D.C. are dropping DWI charges because the breathalyzers used by the police are apparently inaccurate. 9 of the ten breathalyzer machines in use by the District of Columbia are potentially problematic according to Attorney General Peter Nickles. The breath machines had their motors replaced in October 2008 and since then have not been able to be properly calibrated. Hundreds of DWI cases may have been impacted by this screw up.
Drunk driving cases in Washington, D.C. where there is a serious injury or death should not be affected by this fiasco. In catastrophic injury cases, the person suspected of drunk driving is required to give a blood test or urine test thus making the breathalyzer test irrelevant. In Washington, D.C. a person can be convicted of driving while intoxicated if breath tests are above .08 (No field sobriety tests are needed). A person convicted of drunk driving in Washington, D.C. will get a mandatory 5 day jail sentence if the blood alcohol content is .20 or higher.
Many criminal defense attorneys in Washington, D.C. are angry that the police department and D.C. government was not more forthcoming about the problems that they were having with the breathalyzers.
Many people are injured and killed by drunk drivers in the District of Columbia, and it is important that laws that are on the books to prevent alcohol related car crashes are enforced. In fact, in 2008 13 people were killed in Washington, D.C as a result of alcohol related fatalities. However, it is equally important that the evidence used to convict those accused of drunk driving–especially scientific evidence–is reliable and trustworthy. It is a shame that D.C. Did not root out the problem with their breath test machines sooner. Those who have been convicted (or even who plead guilty) to drunk driving charges in Washington, D.C. since October 2008 should hire an attorney to review their case.
At Goldberg Finnegan we fight hard to protect the rights of victims of drunk driving. If you or a loved one are injured by a drunk driver in Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia our attorneys will work hard to located appropriate insurance coverage and make sure that you are fully compensated for your losses. For more information about your rights if you have been injured in Washington, D.C. call us today at (888) 213-8140.