A Breathalyzer expiration date had DUI conviction consequences

If law enforcement arrests you on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, are you required to take a breath test? 

Are you concerned about the accuracy of a Breathalyzer test? 

Two tests

If law enforcement arrests you on suspicion of DUI you will face a breath test, and there are two types. The officer can perform a preliminary test with a handheld Breathalyzer device. This kind of test is not admissible in court, so you can politely refuse to take it. However, you must take the official chemical test at the police station even though you may have concerns about accuracy. 

The Philadelphia incident

In the summer of 2016, an attorney informed the Philadelphia police department that the date on their Breathalyzer machines had expired. All the machines were immediately taken offline for recalibration. Specifically, this meant refreshing the solution, the secret ingredient that ensures the accuracy of blood alcohol content readings. 

Possible repercussions

The Philadelphia police department notified the district attorney of the incident and asked for a review of the results of all drunk driving cases in the first half of the year. The attorney estimated that the Breathalyzer snafu could affect the outcome of up to a thousand cases since lawyers could argue that the expired solution made the results inadmissible in court. 

Illinois law

Illinois has implied consent laws, meaning that drivers in this state automatically consent to take breath tests. Refusing the official chemical test will lead to driver’s license suspension. Keep in mind, however, that an advocate will defend your rights and examine the circumstances of your arrest for DUI including a Breathalyzer result that may not be accurate. 

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