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Breathalyzer tech may not be as reliable as we once thought

Breathalyzer tech may not be as reliable as we once thought
[Photo: Ashleigh Jackson/KOMU News/Flickr]

If you are ever stupid enough to drive drunk, you know that you run the risk of getting busted by the cops when they pull you over and make you breathe into a Breathalyzer. Just a puff of your alcohol-saturated breath can lead to a D.U.I. conviction.

According to the CDC, 29 people in the United States die every day in crashes due to people driving under the influence—that’s one death every 50 minutes—and one of the strongest lines of defense is the breathalyzer. However, there’s an increasing body of evidence that breathalyzers aren’t as infallible as we were led to believe.

ZDnet has a fascinating report on a legal battle being waged in Washington State about the Alcotest 9510, a breathalyzer made by German manufacturing company Draeger. According to the story, two experts wrote a report noting flaws in the breathalyzer’s source code that were capable of producing incorrect breath test results, as well as calibration issues that could result in false positives.

The report was shut down by a lawsuit, though, and the case has dragged out, while police in the state continue using the machine. And Draeger’s breathalyzers aren’t just used in Washington State but are also in use in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Check out the full story here.

This isn’t the first time that the reliability of breathalyzers have come under fire (check out this ThinkProgress story from 2016), but the news comes as so-called marijuana breathalyzers become increasingly common. Perhaps we all should just go ahead and get breathalyzer chips implanted in our skin.

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