State Police work to ensure breath tests remain accurate

By Brandon Richards - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, La (KPLC-TV) – Improperly calibrated breathalyzers could lead to hundreds of DUI cases being tossed out in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Officials there say it bluntly, "We screwed up."

It's causing law enforcement agencies across the country to take a closer look at their breathalyzer machines to make sure they're operating properly.

There are 250 breathalyzer tests in the state of Louisiana, all of which are maintained by the State Police.

The machines undergo inspections every four months to ensure they are operating properly, according to Sgt. James Anderson with Louisiana State Police Troop D.

"We have a team of factory-trained technicians that are required to recertify every machine in the state every four months to ensure they are operating properly," said Anderson.

Anderson also said when the test is administered, officers must follow a checklist to make sure everything goes accordingly.

Even if there were a problem with the machines, it's not likely to stop local prosecutors from convicting drunk drivers because the breathalyzer test is not all they rely on. They also rely on other tests officers may conduct in the field.

"Often times, we don't have any of that," said Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier.  "We have to go to court based solely and exclusively on the testimony of law enforcement and we can convict solely and exclusively on the basis of that testimony."

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