These Machines Can Put You in Jail. Don’t Trust Them.

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  3 months ago  •  20 comments

By:   By Stacy Cowley and Jessica Silver-Greenberg

These Machines Can Put You in Jail. Don’t Trust Them.
Alcohol breath tests, a linchpin of the criminal justice system, are often unreliable, a Times investigation found.

The Dräger Alcotest 9510 and similar devices from other manufacturers are found in police stations across the country. The test results produced by these machines are increasingly drawing skepticism from judges.Credit...Cooper Neill for The New York Times

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

A million Americans   a year are   arrested for   drunken driving, and most stops begin the same way: flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror, then a battery of tests that might include standing on one foot or   reciting the alphabet.

What matters most, though, happens next. By the side of the road or at the police station, the drivers blow into a miniature science lab that estimates the concentration of alcohol in their blood.   If the level is 0.08   or higher, they are all but certain to be convicted of a crime.

But those tests — a bedrock of the criminal justice system — are often unreliable, a New York Times investigation found. The devices, found in virtually every police station in America, generate skewed results with alarming frequency, even though they are marketed as precise to the third decimal place.

Judges in Massachusetts and New Jersey have thrown out more than   30,000   breath tests in the past 12 months alone, largely because of human errors and lax governmental oversight. Across the country, thousands of other tests also have been invalidated in recent years.

The machines are sensitive scientific instruments, and in many cases they haven’t been properly calibrated, yielding results that were at times 40 percent too high. Maintaining machines is up to police departments that sometimes have shoddy standards and lack expertise. In some cities, lab officials have used stale or home-brewed chemical solutions that warped results. In Massachusetts, officers used  a machine with rats nesting inside .

Technical experts have found serious programming mistakes in the machines’ software. States have picked devices that their own experts didn’t trust and have disabled safeguards meant to ensure the tests’ accuracy.

The Times interviewed more than 100 lawyers, scientists, executives and police officers and reviewed tens of thousands of pages of court records, corporate filings, confidential emails and contracts. Together, they reveal the depth of a nationwide problem that has attracted only sporadic attention.

A county judge in Pennsylvania   called it “extremely questionable”   whether any of his state’s breath tests could withstand serious scrutiny. In response, local prosecutors stopped using them. In Florida, a panel of judges described their state’s instrument as a   “magic black box”   with “significant and continued anomalies.”

Even some industry veterans say the machines should not be de facto arbiters of guilt. “The tests were never meant to be used that way,” said   John Fusco, who ran   National Patent Analytical Systems, a maker of breath-testing devices.

Yet the tests have become all but unavoidable. Every state punishes drivers who refuse to take one when ordered by a police officer.

The consequences of the legal system’s reliance on these tests are far-reaching. People are wrongfully convicted based on dubious evidence. Hundreds were never notified that their cases were built on faulty tests.

And when flaws are discovered, the solution has been to   discard the results   — letting potentially dangerous drivers off the hook.

A man backed his car into an 83-year-old woman outside a liquor store and then failed field sobriety tests. Another man was stopped after vomiting out the window and veering “all over the road.” One more driver, with a suspended license, was pulled over and blew a 0.32 — a level of drunkenness that would leave most people unconscious.

Read more at the "Seeded Content"


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1  igknorantzrulz    3 months ago

i completely understand the need for these laws brought bout by angry mothers,


it has also become a cash cow shoo in horn to ease the torn by the horn bull that entraps many in a

made for money extraction that soon gained traction as the spinning wheels of confusion spawn up a stream of steam against a money making scheme to separate a whole many lot from the parking lot of the straight up and down banked turned around at the lawn dart dodged to dislodge the bucks from the deers while the rack a tears digs into the ribs of even the lightly sauced saucer source off coarse due to no drive  shafted   to turn the collection of teeth  into a blade of those on the grass suspending animation dead in its spot parked by the A

lure of a striped bass drum fish hooked on alcohol while picking weeds in the freshly mowed parking lotts of green lawn darts stuck in the as's fault that which is ultimately theirs' to choose and make


a check to unbalance  those of economical misfortune and oppurtunity knocked with a lead door bell ringing the necks of the poor while often never affecting the ones who by sweet hunnie heart deals for those that purchase the exit signed doors by peep wholes who can;t see the


              being made

1.1  NV-Robin6  replied to  igknorantzrulz @1    3 months ago

You are an amazing poet in your own right. That was genius and spot on!

Hi, my name is Robin and I'm an alcoholic.

Mind you, a very controlled one, but surely I must be one because I luvvvv to have a few drinks occasionally when business can be set aside. I don't smoke pot, as that buzz does nothing but instill anxiety for me personally, but the warmth of a brandy? Yessss! Soothes my soul right down to the marrow.

With that said; I wouldn't get behind a seat to drive with one single drop of alcohol in my blood stream. There seriously is no greater risk to self and others. There are other ways of motoring around if one must party publicly. Put safety of self and others first. That is your civic duty.

I will never get the drinking and driving crowd mindset. It's far too easy to misstep under the influence. Use your brain before its altered even the slightest, imo. For those with no brain because they can't  stop themselves have no business anyway. Driving is a privilege not a right. 

So as far as these machines, they shouldnt be used period. It's a gotcha game that isn't keeping drunk drivers off the roads. Only zero tolerance laws will. The cops need the right tools.

Buzz of the Orient
1.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  NV-Robin6 @1.1    3 months ago

Not true. No way do I instill anxiety for you personally.    jrSmiley_51_smiley_image.gif

(Just kidding)

1.1.2  igknorantzrulz  replied to  NV-Robin6 @1.1    3 months ago
You are an amazing poet in your own right. That was genius and spot on! Hi, my name is Robin, and I'm an alcoholic.

I spit out incoherent babble, as i never played scrabble in order to make words, in fact, i truthfully don't recall ever playing scrabble, so my scrambled thoughts exactly express my between and over my ear mess that is at the point of a dresser to fold my scissors while running through Caution Tape thrown at the wind like saliva slicking back my rabid hare that i don't seam to care barely 

about what i spout like a liter down and out right attached via conductor bracket self tapped by a keg half full with two quarters to rub A B elbow offset by doubt sighted by a combination keyed rack riveting by non ferrous medaling wheels that seamlessly run to the gutter to expedite the tortured water bored far through far heads with short tales to tell tall ones,   poured far over my far head through a funnel caked with melting icing on the wings that are sore, 

from my gums flapping

about chewing high with a throat dry, that i'll have to toast till the cows come home to roost, unless they're chicken...


i njoy cold beer and a bongo drum, every no and then, then again, 

as i like drink and smoke , but agree driving should not mix, and by your definition, there are many alcohauling their asses round town, when they shouldn't.

Your wordz on said subject state better than what i did trial and error

Y'all have a swell day, i have to go work on play

1.1.3  NV-Robin6  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1.1    3 months ago

Ha! So far, you haven't. ;-)

I must confess though, I have had a buzz of the Orient kind before. Wickedly and deliciously sinful, to say the least!

Buzz of the Orient
1.1.4  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  NV-Robin6 @1.1.3    3 months ago


1.1.5  NV-Robin6  replied to  igknorantzrulz @1.1.2    2 months ago

Make it a beautiful day for you as well. (Perrie, forgive me for meta hijacking here a bit but I have to share this with Iggy.)

Iggy, thank you for your kind words. I know there are those here who could never rise to the level of your ability or aptitude. Conveyance is where the heart is-- whether you're the giver or the receiver. You're a gift that definitely keeps on giving and I'm more than happy to be gifted! Thank you for all you give here. Some have not a clue how lucky we can be in life. 

Not sure you're familiar with Al Stewart but damn that guy can write songs! (Emerson is my favorite writer, by the way.)

I fell in love with Al way back in the day and this is why;

First, never a more beautifully descriptor written: "She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running like a water color in the rain, no bother asking for explanations, she'll just tell you that she came, in the Year of the Cat."

Overall, Al to me is Johnny Horton of great song telling and writing. I always said he was the modern day version of Johnny Horton of "In 1814 we took a little trip" or rather its title is Battle Hymn of the Republic.   Yes, I'm this old! 

Then there's this favorite song, which I had the good fortune to be at a small concert in Seattle. Al asked the crowd if we wanted to request a song, I shouted out with glee, "Soho, Needless to Say!" and he said, oh wow, I can't believe anyone knows that song! But they played it and I was in 7th Heaven to say the least. After the show, our party got our pictures taken with him and Peter White (his lead guitarist after Tim Renwick. Peter is pretty famous in his own right.)  This was the 2nd time of 3 times, I've met them both. 

"Soho, Needless to say" from his Past, Present and Future Album. (I highlighted in red, my favorite lyric of the entire song.) 

Rainstorm, brainstorm, faces in the maelstrom
Huddle by the puddles in the shadows where the drains run
Hot dogs, wet clogs clicking up the sidewalk
Disappearing into the booze shop
Rainbow queues stand down by the news stand, waiting for the late

Pin ball, sin hall, minds in free fall
Chocolate-colored ladies making eyes through the smoke-pall
Soho (needless to say)
I'm alone on your streets on a Friday evening
I've been here all of the day
I'm going nowhere with nowhere to go

Football supporters taking the waters
They're looking round for the twilight daughters
Non-stop strip club pornographic bookshop
Come into the back and take your time and have a good look
Old man laughs with flowers in his hair
Newspaper headline "Middle East Deadline"
Jazz musicians are down on the breadline
Soho (needless to say)
I'm alone on your streets on a Friday evening
I've been here all of the day
I'm going nowhere with nowhere to go

Soho feeds the needs and hides the deeds, the mind that bleeds
Disenchanted, downstream in the night
Soho hears the lies, the twisted cries, the lonely sighs
Till she seems lost in dreams
The sun goes down on a neon eon
Though you'd have a job explaining it to Richard Coeur de Lion
Animation, bar conversation, anticipation, disinformation
Poor old wino turns with dust in his eyes
Begs for the dregs from the bottom of the kegs, man
You've never seen a lady lay down and spread her legs like
Soho (needless to say)
I'm alone on your sheets on a Friday evening
I've been here all of the day
I'm going nowhere with nowhere to go
Soho (needless to say)
I'm alone on your streets, or am I dreaming
I've been here all of the day
I'm going nowhere with nowhere to go

1.1.6  NV-Robin6  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1.4    2 months ago

Note to Buzz:

I was so disappointed to see you locked up your seed about Dershowitz. I hope you reconsider. I was posting to it then my post wouldn't take. Then saw you locked it. For once, I was hoping we could have a decent chat on the subject. I disagree with you, but I'm not disparaging you. I realize you have your point of view about Trump and that's ok. You're one of the few on that side of the aisle at NT who seemingly is capable of an adult discussion without pulling out an AK47, threatening our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. 

The People's Fish
1.1.7  The People's Fish  replied to  igknorantzrulz @1.1.2    2 months ago

My kids play stoner scrabble. I play with them on occasion but those bastards come up with 70 point words high. It drives me nuts that they are intellectual stoners.

Transyferous Rex
1.1.8  Transyferous Rex  replied to  The People's Fish @1.1.7    2 months ago

Are they on a timer?

Buzz of the Orient
1.1.9  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  NV-Robin6 @1.1.6    2 months ago

Hey Robin,

Did you not read my comment upon locking it?  It's a controversial topic. As I posted the seed I am obligated to moderate it, and as you know I'm on the other side of the world so I locked it for the time I was sleeping, but I said I would unlock it when I woke up, and I did.  

1.1.10  NV-Robin6  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1.9    2 months ago

Oh, I didnt get that. No worries! 

Dean Moriarty
2  Dean Moriarty    3 months ago

Par for the course when dealing with the government. I have no doubt I would get a much more accurate blood alcohol level if tested at my local for profit hospital than at the local cop shop. 

Transyferous Rex
2.1  Transyferous Rex  replied to  Dean Moriarty @2    2 months ago

Which is why you ask for a blood test.

charger 383
3  charger 383    2 months ago

I do not trust breathalyzers, radar or their operators  

Paula Bartholomew
3.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  charger 383 @3    2 months ago

The problem with radar guns is that if they aren't calibrated in a timely manner, they can be inaccurate.  If you are ever busted by one, demand to see the last calibration test.

3.1.1  MUVA  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @3.1    2 months ago

Or slow down and drive the speed limit so you don’t get pulled over to being with.

The People's Fish
4  The People's Fish    2 months ago

I never have a problem driving unless i combine three libations. It's when I smoke weed, drink and snort the Peruvian marching powder, then I uber but they drive to slow.

5  Tacos!    2 months ago

So much evidence is blindly accepted because some “scientist” says it’s all good. Breathalyzer, fingerprints, bite marks, etc. 

Citizen Kane-473667
6  Citizen Kane-473667    2 months ago

I look at the stats of how many people admit to driving drunk or after a few drinks , how many people die or are injured by drunk driving , and I realize that the odds are small that any one of us will be hurt or killed by driving drunk, or kill anyone else. We are more likely to be killed or injured   by a cell phone...


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