Law enforcement agencies rely on various testing equipment to detect alcohol impairment in motorists. However, these devices are not infallible.
In 2019, the DUI arrest rate per 100,000 licensed drivers in California was 455, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Unfortunately, the accuracy of DUI testing equipment has been a subject of concern and can lead to wrongful arrests and convictions.
Calibration and maintenance
One major challenge with DUI testing equipment is the necessity for regular calibration and maintenance. These devices, which include breath tests, require frequent upkeep to ensure they remain accurate. With improper maintenance, they can provide false readings, leading to unjust consequences for the driver.
The operation of DUI testing equipment often depends on the skills and training of the law enforcement officer using it. Mistakes in administering tests, misinterpretation of results or failure to follow proper procedures can all result in unreliable readings. Without proper training, these errors can become more frequent.
External conditions can also influence the accuracy of DUI testing equipment. For instance, extreme weather, high altitudes or even the presence of certain substances in the environment can affect the outcome of breath tests.
Some medical conditions and medications can interfere with DUI testing equipment. Conditions such as acid reflux or diabetes can result in elevated blood alcohol readings, even when the individual has not been drinking. Medications containing alcohol, such as some cough syrups, can also skew the results.
DUI testing equipment may not always reflect a driver’s true state at the time of driving. Alcohol metabolizes in the body, meaning that a person’s blood alcohol concentration can change over time. If testing occurs some time after the alleged offense, the results may not accurately represent the individual’s condition while operating the vehicle and inaccurately skew DUI numbers.
No DUI testing equipment is entirely foolproof. There is inherent variability in alcohol absorption rates and metabolism among individuals. This means that the same amount of alcohol may affect different people in unique ways. DUI testing equipment may not always offer a precise reflection of impairment.
DUI testing equipment is not without its flaws. It is important for authorities to continually address these challenges and seek to improve their processes.