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Faulty Blood Alcohol Breath Tests

March 18, 2012

The past two weeks have seen a lot of news about faulty breath tests and the effect on DUI convictions.  The San Francisco Public Defender Office discovered that the San Francisco Police Department had been falsifying the calibration records for the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device its officers use in the field.  The San Francisco Public Defender discovered that SFPD had been fabricating testing records for 20 in-the-field Alco-Sensor IV devices rather than actually conduct accuracy checks every 10 days or 150 tests, as recommended by the manufacturer.

The public defender noticed this fabrication after comparing police logs for calibration records dating back to 2010 and discovering that the logs for the various devices were identical to each other.  As a result, San Francisco may throw out as many as 1,000 DUI convictions.  Other counties that use the Alco-Sensor IV in the field (Santa Clara, Ventura, and others) may also have to re-examine their convictions.

Might this apply to you?  Only if your DUI conviction relied on the in-the-field PAS test alone, and not a breath or blood test that you took at the station.  The breath-analyzing devices and blood tests have not been called into question.

For more information, see this San Francisco Chronicle front page article and this March 12, 2012 front page follow-up piece:

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