New Instrument, New Issues

SQ Attorneys

SQ Attorneys

Roughly 5 years ago Washington State started replacing their outdated breath test instruments with the German made Draeger-AlcoTest 9510. The instrument analyzes a person’s breath to estimate the alcohol level in a person’s blood. As is well know by now, anyone in Washington State who blows a .08 or above within two hours of driving is presumed to be driving under the influence. Of course, as with any instrument of measurement or precision, there should be built into it a ‘margin of error’.

In Washington State the criminal defense bar has taken the position that the Draeger 9510 runs on a source code (software) that has not yet been properly validated. The source code controls the data when the instrument is collecting breath samples. As it stands, there really has not been any independent testing of the Draeger, and thus the confidence in the instruments accuracy, validity and reliability has been called into question.  The manufacturer of the Draeger 9510 has been unwilling to openly divulge the source code claiming it is protected intellectual property.

Of particular concern with the Draeger 9510 are several issues in the source code that could possibly impact the result of a person’s alcohol breath test. The Draeger 9510 implements a ‘checks-and-balances’ system within the instrument itself. It uses two sensors to measure the alcohol content in a person’s breath sample. First, it uses an infrared beam that measures how much light goes through the breath sample and the molecules contained therein.  Second, it uses a fuel cell to measure the electrical current in the breath sample provided. As part of the ‘check-and-balances’ process, if the results of the two samples are too far apart, the test will be aborted. It is thought, however, that under certain circumstances the source code may actually permit, not abort, the test. It is also believed that there may be issues with the way the device adjusts for a person’s breath temperature, which could cause a faulty breath measurement.  Unfortunately, due to a number of legal barriers, the defense bar simply, as of yet, has not been able to flesh out all the issues surrounding the Draeger 9510.

If you or a loved one is accused of DUI you should immediately consult with a qualified Seattle DUI Attorney. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI lawyer, among other things, can quite possibly save the aggrieved person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, the extent of loss of privilege to drive, and the amount of jail time to be served. We have said it before and will say it again, Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart and consult with a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for an alcohol and/or drug related DUI in Washington State. SQ Attorneys is here to help – (206) 441-1600.

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