County's Breathalyzer Accuracy Called Into Question

NBC4i.com

Newark, Ohio – A local law enforcement agency is under fire for allegedly not following procedure when it comes to breathalyzer tests.

Two years of breathalyzer test results are being called into question by a man who was convicted by the device. He claims deputies did not follow the rules when maintaining the breathalyzer machine, NBC 4's Paul Stelzer reported.

The Licking County Sheriff's office uses a BAC DataMaster to measure the blood-alcohol-content (BAC) of people arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

Defense attorney Rob Calesaric said a drunk driving conviction against his client, Markane Raleigh, should be thrown out.

Calesaric said the sheriff's office did not properly test the accuracy of its BAC DataMaster.

To test the machine, a deputy has to run a solution through the machine that contains roughly .08-percent of alcohol. If the machine reads .08, it's working properly.

Ohio Department of Health requires law enforcement agencies to keep records of any failed test. But Calesaric said a Licking County Sheriff's deputy admitted to throwing away failed test results and repeating the test until getting a successful result.

The machine was later used to measure Raleigh's BAC at .141 percent.

"There's absolutely no way they should be going forward with a test result that they don't believe was done in accordance with ODH regulations," Calesaric said.

But Chief Deputy Chad Dennis said the defense is splitting hairs – that the bottom line is that the machine provided the correct BAC.

"Once this issue was brought to our attention, we took a step to verify the accuracy of the machine, which we did. The results show that the machine was accurate," Dennis said.

Dennis could say much more about the case, but stands by his deputies.

If Raleigh is successful in getting his conviction overturned, the ruling could affect other convictions based on BAC results from the machine in question.