Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

Former HPD Lab Supervisor Questions Accuracy of DWI Breath Tests

Girl with a breath test in Housotn.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 from 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 to lead to improper DWI charges and convictions for individuals throughout Houston.

An experienced 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 to 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 negatively affected. The calibration of the breath-testing machines may also be compromised and the heat can change the 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.

Source: HPD crime lab faces more heat