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Nebraska DUI Cases Affected by Fraudulent Certification of Breathalyzer Tests

Do you know whether the machine used to administer the breath test in your DUI case was properly certified? Most states, including Illinois, have regulations to ensure the accuracy of breath test machines. If the state relies on results from an improperly certified breath test machine in prosecuting a DUI case against you, it can greatly affect the outcome of your case and may provide grounds for avoiding or overturning a conviction.

Recently, the impact of certification issues was felt by prosecutors throughout Nebraska, when hundreds of DUI cases were affected when it was revealed the machines used for official breath tests were improperly certified. While Nebraska police officers administer preliminary breath tests when they suspect a person is driving under the influence of alcohol, many DUI cases rely on results from official breath test machines, which are usually in jails. State regulations require the official breath test machines to be tested regularly to ensure accuracy.

While defending a DUI charge against a client, a Nebraska criminal defense attorney noticed discrepancies in certifications for the official breath test machines. His discovery prompted an investigation which revealed that the individual responsible for testing and certifying the accuracy of breath test machines throughout the state had not actually tested the machines. Subsequently, all DUI cases relying on results from the official breath tests were affected. In cases that relied solely on the official breath tests, prosecutors lacked any evidence with which to convict the defendants.  Moreover, the lack of certification greatly impacted the prosecution’s ability to prove cases in which it was alleged the defendant had committed an aggravated DUI, which requires proof the defendant had a blood alcohol concentration higher than 0.15 percent in Nebraska.

Failure to properly certify breath test machines has affected Illinois DUI cases as well. In one recent case in Illinois, a DUI conviction was overturned on the grounds that the breath test machine used to test the defendant’s blood alcohol level was not properly certified. In that case, the defendant was convicted by a jury of driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. He appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial court made an error in allowing the result of his breath machine test to be admitted into evidence, where the machine had not been properly certified as accurate. Under Illinois regulations, the breath test machine was required to have been certified as accurate within sixty-two days of the test; however, the state failed to show the machine was certified as accurate within the applicable time period. Based on the lack of certification, the appellate court found the trial court improperly allowed the prosecution to use the results from the breath test machine. Without the results from the breath test machine, the prosecution had no evidence proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the appellate court overturned the defendant’s conviction and ordered a new trial.

If you were convicted of a DUI in Illinois and believe the prosecution relied on results from a breath test machine that was not properly certified, you should contact an attorney skilled in defending DUI charges immediately. Harvatin Law Offices, PC aggressively defends individuals charged with DUI throughout Illinois. Contact our office at 217.525.0520 to schedule a consultation.

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Illinois Supreme Court Reverses Grant of DUI Defendant’s Suppression Motion Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, February 1, 2018.

State Supreme Court Hears Arguments Challenging State’s Rules for Testing BAC Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, November 30, 2017

State Supreme Court Holds Police Cannot Take Warrantless Blood Draws From Unconscious DUI Suspects Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, October 2, 2017