Washington State Prepares for New Breath Test Machine



Jon Fox Teaching Trial Skills

Prior to 1984, the “Breathalyzer” (Smith & Wesson 900A) was the machine used to determine guilt or innocence of a DUI suspect. This machine had a number of problems, including the possibility that by turning a dial on the machine, the DUI officer could cause the machine to read higher than the true alcohol reading. This machine came to be known as the “dial a drunk.” It was replaced by the then-controversial DataMaster machine, which (in various forms) has been used in Washington State DUI arrests from 1985 through the present date. The DataMaster has its own problems and the state has chosen to deploy the Draeger 9510 sometime in 2011. Behind the scenes the state has been testing the Draeger 9510 and working with the German manufacturer to customize the software for Washington State. The Draeger will employ two different modes to analyze the breath of the DUI suspect and is advertised as pretty much “foolproof.”  I have seen this machine and I must admit, it looks impressive. However, the test of time will determine how good this new machine is. In order to deploy the machine, several changes to the Washington Administrative Code that govern breath testing must occur. These have been proposed by the State Toxicologist and will be adopted as proposed unless something dramatic happens.

Update: A public hearing was held regarding adoption of the changes to the Washington Administrative Code. Outside of representatives from WSP, nobody attended. It is expected that the proposed changes will be adopted and enacted exactly as written.

If you or a friend have been arrested for DUI, contact the Seattle and Bellevue DUI lawyer Jon Scott Fox at (425) 395-4384 or (425) 395-4DUI.

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