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Are the Breathalyzers Used by the NYPD Potentially Faulty?

The legal and social ramifications of such a DUI conviction are incredibly far-reaching. This may help explain why one attorney here in New York City is being so persistent in his demand for records from the New York Police Department, records that he believes will reveal that some people slapped with DUI convictions were actually convicted using information from faulty breathalyzers.

Criminal defense attorney Adam Perlmutter recently filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the goal of obtaining five years worth of maintenance records for the 28 breathalyzer machines currently used by the department.

Interestingly, Perlmutter claims to have proof that one of the machines was faulty, and that the police still used it while knowing that it was not functioning properly.

He filed the FOIA request because he wants to know if the rest of the machines were maintained in the same manner as the faulty one.

"Other states put this information online. We thought, 'Why can't we have that in New York?'" he said.

The NYPD has denied the request twice thus far. First, it claimed that providing the records would "interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings."

When Perlmutter pointed out that the record did not involve any particular case, the NYPD denied him yet again, claiming that providing the records would "interfere with the ordinary course of court-supervised discovery."

Perlmutter is now asking the Manhattan Supreme Court to order the NYPD to honor his FOIA request.

It is obvious that the NYPD does not want to hand over this information. Whether its reasoning will be strong enough when weighed against the possibility of uncovering false positives for countless drunk driving suspects remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for more from our New York traffic law blog ...

DWI/DUI arrest can have a serious impact on your life in a number of ways and result in various penalties. In fact, many of these penalties are much more serious than the mere license suspension or revocation.

When faced with this scenario, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


The New York Daily News, "Manhattan DWI attorney sues for breathalyzer maintenance records, claiming broken machines are put back in service," Barbara Ross, Feb. 6, 2013

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