Houston Criminal Law Blog

EXPERIENCED. AGGRESSIVE. HOUSTON CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW FIRM: The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp

HPD Breath-Test Machine Scandal

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7674665.html

When a person is arrested for DWI, the police always ask that person to submit a specimen of his or her breath for analysis.  The specimen is taken by a machine commonly referred to as a breathalyzer.  The technology behind these machines is complicated, and many police department employees who run the machines do not understand the science behind them.  The results of such incompetence can often lead to analysis results which are unreliable at best.

This was an issue earlier this year when three HPD employees quit in protest over how the department was forcing them to operate the machines.  At an evidentiary hearing in July, former HPD breath test operator Amanda Culbertson testified that the results of breath specimens taken in HPD’s mobile breath test vans were unreliable because HPD routinely ignored proper maintenance and storage procedures for the machines. 

When the government wants to introduce the results of a scientific test in order to prove a person’s guilt, it must first prove that the test was reliable.  It is the job of the Defendant’s attorney to remain vigilant, and object to any faulty scientific measurements.  DWI is only a class B misdemeanor, but that does not mean that the punishment is not severe.  A person convicted of DWI can look forward to either a lengthy probation or jail time (or both depending upon the Judge).  You can also expect to lose your driver’s license for at least 90 days, and pay DPS expensive surcharges for the next three years.  If it is proven at your trial that you had a breath test result of between .08 and .15, you will have to pay DPS a surcharge of $1,000 a year for the next three years.  If your test results are greater than .15, the surcharge is $2,000 a year.

If you are stopped for DWI you should refuse any and all tests the police want to perform on you.  They are not trying help you.  If you are arrested, it is important to hire competent counsel to represent you.  Call the Law Office of The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp today for a free consultation.

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