The Houston Police Department (HPD) maintains six Breath Alcohol Testing
(BAT) vans for field testing suspected drunk drivers. But, the accuracy
of the test results gathered with the BAT vans has been called into question.
Amanda Culbertson, a former lab supervisor at the HPD crime lab, said
known electrical and overheating problems with the vans may have lead
to incorrect breath-test results.
Culbertson resigned her position with the HPD crime lab because she did
not trust the test results of the field testing vans. "[I] could
no longer choose between a paycheck and [my] integrity," Culbertson
explained during a recent DWI hearing.
While the breath test is only a piece of the evidence that may be used in a
DWI prosecution, it is often weighted heavily by the person accused in determining
whether to fight or negotiate drunk-driving charges. Incorrect breath-alcohol
test results likely have lead to improper DWI charges and convictions
for individuals throughout Houston.
Houston breath test attorney will examine all circumstances surrounding a DWI arrest, but there is
little doubt that inaccurate results from the BAT vans have lead to guilty
pleas based on faulty evidence.
Problems with the Breath Alcohol Texting Vans
According to Culbertson, if the BAT van is allowed to overheat, the gauges
on the testing equipment are be negatively affected. The calibration of
the breath-testing machines may also be compromised and the heat can change
makeup of the control sample. Culbertson believes that breath tests that
occurred during the hottest months in Houston are the most likely to be
incorrect if affected by issues with the BAT vans.
Despite knowing there are problems with the air conditioning in BAT vans,
HPD Traffic Enforcement Division Capt. Carl Driskell says the trouble
with the breath-testing machines is overstated. If it is too hot, the
machines simply won't work; an inaccurate result won't be returned,
rather, no result will be returned at all.
Harris County DWI attorneys continue to fight against the use of test results
from the BAT vans. The District Attorney's office is conducting an
investigation into the reliability of evidence collected from the Breath
Alcohol Testing vans.
HPD crime lab faces more heat