NEWS

Calibration raises concerns about breathalyzers

02/01/2013 12:56 EST | Updated 04/02/2013 05:12 EDT
A Vancouver defence lawyer says the problems police are experiencing with improperly calibrated breathalyzers are only the tip of the iceberg.

Yesterday, Port Moody police revealed improperly calibrated devices led to 14 invalid roadside suspensions for drunk driving in 2011. The government has promised to erase the suspensions from the drivers' records and reimburse any fines or fees.

But lawyer Paul Doroshenko says compensating the drivers is not going to be that simple.

"I don't know what you do. We are talking about people who have lost their jobs, huge embarrassment for people. People had to try and explain it to their families. It's humiliating," he says.

Apart from the issues with calibration and now compensation, Doroshenko says there is a bigger problem with the system.

His concern is the tough impaired driving laws that allow police to issue roadside suspensions that can cost drivers thousands of dollars in fines and fees — without setting foot inside a courtroom.

"No roadside breath testing is ever reliable enough to be to justify punishment. It's a frightening scheme we have in B.C.," he said.

Doroshenko says he devices are just not accurate enough to replace more accurate testing methods like blood tests.

"It was intended to be used as a screener to assist police officers in forming an opinion as to whether they should take you back to the detachment."

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