Breathalyzers have long been the gold standard for catching people who get behind the wheel after drinking. But when the devices aren’t working as they should, it could be you that pays the price.
Michigan State Police found around 200 breathalyzers did not meet the standards for maintenance. They quickly stopped using the devices after discovering potentially falsified reports from a third-party – almost five months after they contracted the company to monitor the machines.
Blowing the call
Chemical tests play a large role in identifying impaired drivers, and chances are good you’ll face one if the police suspect you’re drinking and driving. You can run into additional trouble if you refuse the screening since Michigan has implied consent laws. Failing to take the test on request could lead to points on your license, a suspension and no option for a restricted license.
But just because you submit to the process doesn’t mean the answer is flawless. These devices require constant work to keep readouts accurate enough for state use. While departments are within the rules to contract entities to take care of that for them, problems can arise when the service doesn’t live up to legal requirements:
- Accuracy: A certified tester needs to regularly check equipment to make sure it’s properly calibrated. Otherwise, the readings could start to be inaccurate.
- Repair: Repairs need to happen if a device is acting up, fails certification or stops working. As with the check-ups, someone certified has to do the work.
- Reporting: Documentation is key when working with these machines. Each department will usually need to keep detailed records on testing, repairs and use. This information could prove important if a string of results doesn’t look right.
False maintenance reports are just one of many factors that can quickly lead to out-of-order equipment. And when the service doesn’t meet the standards, you might be able to call your test into question.