Criminal/DUI Defense Blog

Breathalyzers for Private Use

Posted by Erin FieldMar 31, 20080 Comments

In the news recently are proposed Connecticut laws encouraging voluntary use of breathalysers in restaurants and bars, and new uses for breathalysers in schools.

The bars proposal would be voluntary for patrons to test themselves, under the condition that the evidence is not used against them. The incentive for establishments that serve alcohol would be reduced liability from $250k to $100k in the event of an alcohol related accident and DUI charge. The Connecticut Legislative Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the matter.

In schools, breathalysers have been an increasingly common tool around prom season for admission to dances and other school events in Darien, Simsbury, Southington, and Clinton. In addition, some schools have these devices on hand for use anytime the school suspects a student of alcohol use.

Since all breath test devices have certain flaws and biases, it would be unfair to use these machines as an ultimate arbiter of alcohol consumption with no allowable defense. Known flaws in these machines that can show false positives include stomach and medical conditions, use of mouthwash or consuming certain foods, and other factors.

These machines must be reliably maintained, tested, and calibrated, and operated by a person trained to use them under the right conditions and circumstances to be certain that they are operating as designed.

It seems perfectly reasonable to encourage people to use these devices in bars to test themselves for informational purposes, with no legal risks. This usage may well reduced drunk driving among people who may not have suspected that they are impaired.

However a school situation where there is no appeal, and failure can result in serious consequences to the students is not an appropriate or fair use. No magical number that can't be contested or appealed should decide someone's future, whether in court or on school.

Please contact me for a legal case evaluation on any drunk driving or criminal charge in Connecticut.