Lawsuit: DC government knew of DWI machine malfunction for 2 years

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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The attorney for one of about 400 people in Washington D.C. convicted for driving while intoxicated based on inaccurate breath test machine results says authorities knew of the problem for two years but did nothing about it.

The District’s ten breath test machines — all of which were improperly calibrated — could show a driver’s blood-alcohol level to be up to twenty to forty times higher than it actually was.

Thomas Key, who has filed suit on behalf of one client who says he was a victim of the improper adjustment by police of the breath machine, says the Washington Post story detailing the breath test machine inaccuracy was a “pretty vanilla story of what happened.”

“We alleged that the attorney general’s office knew back in early 2008 that the machine had problems,” Key said.

According to the Washington Post story, the problem was discovered after a review was done of prosecutions between September 2008 and February 2010. The machines have been under investigation by the D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles’ office since February.

The Daily Caller obtained a copy of the suit, which claims that the police department “continued to represent that the machines were ‘calibrated and tested for accuracy'” even though they were aware that an expert found that the machines were not being tested for accuracy.

“They should’ve stopped using the machines,” Key said, adding that prosecutors should have also disclosed the inaccuracies earlier.