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Fake Science for Cops

Summary:
Breathalyzer test results have long been considered a lynch pin of the criminal justice system. About a million people are arrested every year for drunk driving in the United States — but a shocking investigation has revealed that many of these arrests were likely made in vain. As it turns out, breathalyzer testing is based on sham science, and most often, the results they produce are inaccurate. These devices can be found at just about every police station in the United States, and are commonly used during road-side traffic stops. The way a breathalyzer works seems pretty simple: After you get pulled over, police will ask you to blow into the device. If the devices registers your alcohol levels as 0.08 or above, you’re probably

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Breathalyzer test results have long been considered a lynch pin of the criminal justice system. About a million people are arrested every year for drunk driving in the United States — but a shocking investigation has revealed that many of these arrests were likely made in vain. As it turns out, breathalyzer testing is based on sham science, and most often, the results they produce are inaccurate. These devices can be found at just about every police station in the United States, and are commonly used during road-side traffic stops.

The way a breathalyzer works seems pretty simple: After you get pulled over, police will ask you to blow into the device. If the devices registers your alcohol levels as 0.08 or above, you’re probably going to jail. But as a special investigation by The New York Times reveals, nothing is ever as simple (or accurate) as it seems.

Breathalyzers are a scam

According to the Times, breathalyzers produce skewed results with “alarming frequency.” While these devices are marketed as being accurate to the third decimal point, many thousands of test results have been thrown out of court, largely due to human error and poor government oversight. In Massachusetts and New Jersey, judges have thrown out over 30,000 breathalyzer tests over the course of just the last year.

Breathalyzers are extremely sensitive devices. If they haven’t been calibrated properly, big trouble can follow. The Times reports that in instances where a breathalyzer isn’t calibrated correctly, the results may be up to 40 percent higher than they should be.

This means that quite a lot of people have probably gotten arrested or fined for no reason.

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