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Could broken breath test machines still be in use?

For people in Maryland who have refused a breath test when they have been stopped on suspicion of DUI or DWI, a story developing in another state could provide a rationale for why not giving consent for a breath test to be administered without an attorney present might be a good idea.

In New York City, where more than 9,000 people are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving every year, the city uses just over two dozen breath test machines. The readings these machines report are crucial: according to one attorney, government attorneys will not even consider a plea bargain for someone who has been charged if the machines indicate a certain blood alcohol level.

That attorney completed a Freedom of Information Law request in order to obtain maintenance records for each of the 28 machines. The New York Police Department resisted the request, saying that their disclosure would interfere with ongoing investigations. However, the attorney has persisted because he asserts that a potentially faulty machine has been continued to be used by the police department in spite of the fact that it was demonstrated to be broken and had not been repaired.

For people in Maryland who are under suspicion for drunk driving, the results of a breath test can be crucial. People in such situations have the right to contact an attorney before they consent to a test to determine their blood alcohol level. The stakes are too high for anyone in this situation to not consider all their options.

Source: New York Daily News, "Manhattan DWI attorney sues for breathalyzer maintenance records, claiming broken machines are put back in service," Barbara Ross, Feb. 6, 2013

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