Will Whatcom County Get A New Breath Test Machine To Prosecute DUI?

New Legislation in the form of House Bill 2465 is Titled “BREATH TEST INSTRUMENTS-RESULTS — ADMISSIBILITY” and it becomes effective this summer, June 10, 2010.  The legislation affects the current statute RCW 46.61.506 which is the law that plays a role in determining whether a breath test will be admitted into evidence in a DUI trial and a civil Department of Licensing hearing. The actual change in the law appears fairly minor. These important changes are underlined:  Prior to the start of...


New Legislation in the form of House Bill 2465 is Titled “BREATH TEST INSTRUMENTS–RESULTS—ADMISSIBILITY” and it becomes effective this summer, June 10, 2010.  The legislation affects the current statute RCW 46.61.506 which is the law that plays a role in determining whether a breath test will be admitted into evidence in a DUI trial and a civil Department of Licensing hearing. The actual change in the law appears fairly minor.

These important changes are underlined:  Prior to the start of the test, the temperature of any liquid simulator solution utilized as an external standard, as measured by a thermometer approved of by the state toxicologist.”  As well as, adding the following underlined portion to the sentence that reads: “The result of the test of the liquid simulator solution external standard or dry gas external standard result did lie between .072 to .088 inclusive.”

While the statute itself is fairly long and the subject of much debate, this new section of the statute that adds 21 new words does not change the law all that much in appearance, but actual effect is substantial because this  law is now the foundation for which Washington will build upon to bring in a brand new breath testing machine.

While it is believed that the machine will be “tested” in only a couple of counties, it is only a matter of time before Whatcom, Skagit, Island and all other counties will be using it to prosecute DUI.  While the new machine is still somewhat of a secret, it is a badly kept one as it has been know for some time now that that current DUI breath test machine, the DataMaster, will be replaced by the German made DRAGER.

While Drager is actually a company name it’s breath testing devices are referred to as by the same along with the model number.  While There are many models, Drager’s most current model, the 9510, is what is believed to be the next breath test machine in the State and it is said to be the most advanced instrument to date.

The 9510 is advertised as a machine that eliminates many of the current problems associated with other breath testing machines in the form of falsely high readings as a result of elevation, body temperature, breath interferents, and high protein-rapid weight-loss diets like Atkins, are eliminated.  Even though Washington’s DataMaster suffers from all of these problems these are not the reasons that the machine is being replaced.  The DataMaster is so old that the company who manufactures it, no longer provides parts and service and have created new models.  Various other models of the Drager have been in service, in other states and countries, for many years.  While this new machine has the capacity to eliminate many problems associated with the current  DataMaster, some of the more useful “options” that the Drager  9510 has that will safeguard against false breath test readings, may be opted out of by the state of Washington.

Apparently, the cost purchasing these optional technological safeguards and ensuring  that innocent  drivers don’t get charged and convicted  is an expense that that State is not willing to bear.  Fortunately, some of the safeguards are “standard” equipment on the new machine and should reduce some falsely high readings and thus false charges.