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SFPD Breathalyzer Error Puts Hundreds Of DUI Convictions In Doubt

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A driver under suspicion of DUI undergoes a Breathalyzer test. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A driver under suspicion of DUI undergoes a Breathalyzer test. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

DougSovern20100908_KCBS_0208r Doug Sovern
Doug began his career as a copy boy at the New York Times, and then...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Hundreds, or even thousands, of drunk driving convictions could be overturned because the San Francisco Police Department has not tested its breathalyzers, officials said Monday.

For at least six years, the police officers in charge of testing the 20 breathalizyers used by the Police Department did not carry out any tests on the equipment.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Officers instead filled the test forms with numbers that matched the control sample, said Public Defender Jeff Adachi, throwing countless DUI convictions into doubt.

“We do expect that the cases will be in the hundreds. It’s possible that it could go into the thousands. The District Attorney’s Office is still investigating the scope of this,” Adachi said during a joint news conference with District Attorney George Gascon.

Gascon said there did not appear to be any malicious intent behind the police officers’ actions. He said the coordinators were apparently just too lazy to perform the test required every 10 days.

“If we find cases where this evidence was central to the case,” Gascon said, the District Attorney’s Office would dismiss the case.

San Francisco police are not using the breathalyzers while the prosecutor’s office conducts its investigation, Gascon said, adding that convictions stemming from stops by other police agencies such as the California Highway Patrol would not be affected.

Adachi invited anyone arrested by San Francisco police on suspicion of driving under the influence and later convicted because of a preliminary alcohol screening test to contact the Public Defender’s Office at (415) 553-1081 or the attorney who handled the case.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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