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BAC devices must be calibrated

Most Washington drivers have heard about the legal limits for blood alcohol content, or BAC. States have enacted laws stating there is a presumption of guilt regarding driving under the influence if there is a BAC at a pre-determined level. BAC can be measured by a blood test from a lab technician, but it is generally measured by law enforcement personnel using a Breathalyzer machine. There are specific guidelines for maintenance and calibration of Breathalyzer machines, and if officials cannot produce documentation certifying a machine is in compliance, the results of any test may be disallowed in court.

Each jurisdiction has specific criteria regarding certification and calibration of Breathalyzer machines. Generally, the machines in use must be from a pre-determined list of devices deemed reliable and scientifically accurate. Each machine must be operated by an officer or technician with specified training and certification in the use of Breathalyzers and administration of BAC testing. Specific testing protocols must be followed. Among the criteria for reliable testing is a period observing the subject of the test to ascertain there is no burping, regurgitation or other activity that could adversely affect the accuracy of the test. There must be multiple tests administered with measurable readings within .02 of each other.

Upon a proper request, authorities are required to provide the accused, generally through their attorney, with documentation detailing the specific machine used, its maintenance and calibration history, and the training of the officer administering the test. If the machine cannot be proven to have been in proper working order, the test results might be deemed unreliable and kept from evidence.

DUI convictions bring serious consequences including loss of driving privileges, incarceration, heavy fines and increased insurance premiums. Any criminal conviction can appear on background checks, so doing everything possible to prevent a conviction or reduce charges is recommended. Consulting a qualified criminal defense lawyer may allow individuals accused of a crime to properly evaluate their options and defense strategies.

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