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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.
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.
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.
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Dalton Law Office, PLLC
2904 Main Street, Vancouver, WA 98663