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Doug Landau
Doug Landau
Attorney • (866) 735-1102 Ext 610

No D.C. alcohol breath tests to catch drunk drivers

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Breathalizer test results are often used as evidence to prosecute drunk drivers and keep dangerous motorists off the roads of the DC metropolitan area. As a former prosecutor, evidence taken "from the scene" frequently helped law enforcement make the case against those stopped for "driving while intoxicated." According to news reports, the program that was officially shut down in February after a year of problems

The District of Columbia has lost an important deterrent for drunk drivers. According to DC officials, the District likely won’t have an alcohol breath-test program until next spring. Problems with the city’s breath-test equipment were discovered in February 2010 when a contractor hired to maintain the breath-analysis machines found they had been mis-calibrated. As a prosecutor, I had to show that breathalyzer and speedometer equipment was reliable, and had been tested frequently so that the court could rely on the evidence produced by this technology in punishing reckless and unsafe drivers. However, if the machines were not recently tested, or gave unreliable readings, the evidence was tossed out and the Defendant would frequently suffer no punishment.

When the breath testing equipment proved faulty, the District of Columbia government pulled those machines and replaced them with new ones. But the D.C. medical examiner refused to sign off on the evidence they produced, and the department officially shut down the program in January. Police and prosecutors have since turned to urine analysis to test drivers believed to be impaired. However, urine analysis is less reliable in determining a driver’s impairment than both breath and blood tests. The urine tests have, however, yielded information breath tests can’t: 12 percent of drivers arrested for DUI in D.C. also test positive for the drug PCP ! Police union chief Kris Baumann said the unreliable evidence yielded by urine analysis is typical of an attorney general’s office that is not "serious." "They’re doing busywork to make it appear that we have a functional DUI program, when we don’t," Baumann said. Having prosecuted impaired drivers as well as brought injury claims against drunk and stoned drivers, DC area multistate lawyer Dog Landau of Abrams Landau, Ltd. believes it is time the DC government got serious and had a credible deterrent to intoxicated drivers in order to the roads around our nation’s Capitol safe.