Cops defend breath test procedures

POLICE in Suffolk have defended the robustness of its drink-driving testing procedures after a landmark legal case raised questions about its breathalysers.

POLICE in Suffolk have defended the robustness of its drink-driving testing procedures after a landmark legal case raised questions about its breathalysers.

The issue has come to the fore after a driver was falsely accused of failing to provide a breath specimen because officers from another force had incorrectly fitted a one-way valve into a breath-testing machine.

The IT consultant from north London was astonished when he was charged with the offence despite trying his best to give a sample.

However, the case was dropped after Driving Defences, a specialist road traffic law firm, proved that the defendant had been blowing in the wrong end, making it impossible for his breath to register.

It is thought the case could open the floodgates for appeals from the thousands of motorists who are convicted each year of failing to give a sample.

Martin Hammond, a principal at Driving Defences, said they would now be on hand to help drivers who have been convicted in Suffolk.

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He said: “We can look at the machine and investigate whether the same type of mouthpiece was used.

“If the motorist has an ongoing case, this would be simple. And if they have been convicted, an appeal out of time can be requested due to the new evidence.”

However, Suffolk police, which uses the same type of breathalyser, called an Intoximeter, said it was not aware of any problems with the device.

A spokesman added: “The Intoximeter machines are designed to self-test before, during and after every evidential breath test. Furthermore they are serviced and calibrated in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

“Each officer who uses the machines is trained to do so and if there were any problems or concerns with giving a breath sample then taking a blood or urine sample is an alternative.”

Five forces - including the Metropolitan police and Essex police - were found to be using the device, with at least 17,189 motorists tested last year. Anyone interested in looking into their conviction can contact Driving Defences at www.drivingdefences.com.

Do you think you have a case for appeal? Call The Evening Star news desk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

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