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Dalton Law Office, PLLC
Vancouver, WA DUI Defense

Policing the State’s DUI Science

Are the breath testing machines reliable and how can breath test evidence be used against drivers in court?

Since technology can fail and be unreliable, we are not willing to put blind faith in technology, especially when our clients’ freedom is at stake. Washington State law enforcement agencies use Datamaster BAC machines similar to the one below.   The machines are calibrated with solutions mixed by technicians and they are serviced and calibrated by more technicians.  

The technology is old, and the calibration and processing techniques are fallible.  Sometimes procedures used by the forensic laboratory are found to be of questionable scientific validity. Because technology is subject to failure, at the Law Office of Nicole T. Dalton, PLLC, we study the testing process and the machines and science relied upon by the state.  If we find evidence of scientific failures that may be beneficial to our clients we’re not afraid to use that evidence. We work hard to protect our clients from mistakes that can jeopardize their freedom.  


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In Washington police agencies, officers use a breath testing machine approved by the Washington State Police Toxicology Laboratory to measure the blood alcohol levels of drivers under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.  Although the officer may also obtain a test while still at the roadside, the results of those tests done with the hand held device is generally not admissible in court or administrative proceedings.  Breath tests obtained by law enforcement in Washington on Datamaster or the newer Draeger machines may be used in court against the accused. However, close scrutiny of the breath testing procedure, machine maintenance, calibration and repairs sometimes reveals errors that provide a basis to dispute the admissibility of the breath evidence. Additionally, evidence of potential problems with the testing process is often admissible to show a jury that the process may be unreliable.

Aggressive criminal defense services available in SW Washington areas including Clark County, Vancouver, Camas, Washougal, Battleground, Ridgefield, Stevenson, Kelso, Longview, Cowlitz County, Skamania County, Wahkiakum County and other areas..

Over the last decade, Ms. Dalton and other aggressive defense attorneys have obtained favorable results by litigating multiple problems with the scientific procedures and results obtained by the Washington State Police Toxicology Laboratory.  This 2010 Seattle Times article discussing some of this litigation.  Instead of placing blind faith in the police agencies and their machines, we scrutinize the science, the procedures, and the results obtained by police agencies and strive to keep law enforcement and prosecutors from using junk science in our courts.

Typical BAC Machines


The machines pictured here are similar to those used by Washington law enforcement agencies to obtain breath alcohol tests. This kind of technology using infrared spectrometry for breath testing dates back to the 1970s.

We are not willing to place blind faith in the State’s alcohol and drug measuring technology.


At the Law Office of Nicole T. Dalton, PLLC, we are not willing to place blind faith in the validity of the testing process. Washington holds drivers to a strict standard of alcohol consumption.  We strive to hold the state to strict standards of scientific legitimacy.  The lawmakers who drafted DUI laws and the police officers who arrest people for driving under the influence are not necessarily scientists.   An aggressive DUI attorney will fight to assure that any evidence used to try to convict be of proven scientific validity.

Can I be prosecuted for DUI without any breath test results ?


Prosecutors can sometimes still proceed with DUI charges even if the results of the breath test are not admissible or if no breath test was obtained.  The arresting officer typically presents testimony as to his or her observations and as to the results of any FIELD SOBRIETY TESTING performed and sometimes officers indicate that the driver refused tests.

In addition to - or in lieu of - breath and blood results, prosecutors use officer testimony regarding “field sobriety tests” (FSTs) or Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) testimony to obtain DUI convictions.  Those tests are often presented as scientific evidence and they are also subject to scrutiny.  We understand the theories and procedures involved in field sobriety and DRE testing and evaluate our cases for errors in the process - from whether the tests were administered voluntarily to whether the tests meet scientific standards.

What about blood tests for drugs and alcohol and DUI charges?


The state sometimes uses blood tests to try to prove their DUI charges.  Although the technology used is different, many questions still exist regarding the reliability of the procedures and technologies used, as well as questions about whether the kind and amount of substances that may be found can accurately be linked with intoxication.

Call us for a free initial consultation at (360) 213-0013 ... or call Ms. Dalton 24 hours, 7 days per week for urgent legal matters at 503-nine-five-seven-9018.