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Cases in jeopardy after breathalyzers not properly calibrated

At least 2,600 Texas DWI cases could now be in jeopardy.

As we first reported on Friday, DPS officers uncovered that a company overseeing breathalyzer tests in the Houston area did not have the machines calibrated properly, then lied about it on electronic records. New tonight, KLTV 7's Danielle Capper examines the questions this now raises for DWI cases around the state, and what local agencies are doing to prevent something like this from happening here.

"As you can see the intoxilizer machine has been collected and is in route to austin for recertification," said Chief Robert Weiners of Friendswood Police.

A machine that was supposed to be checked, but a DPS audit found the contractor checking was not doing her job.

"This is a very serious incident," said DPS Trooper Jeannie Dark.

Trooper Dark says as soon as DPS found out about the breathalyzer inspections in the Houston area being faked, they removed the machines in question, replacing them with new ones.

"I have full faith in the integrity of the instrument. It is always a human element that comes in. the humans are the only ones that are more apt to be corrupted," said Trooper Dark.

Now, while the tests in Houston were handled by an independent contractor, here in East Texas, DPS has two technical supervisors working directly for them.

And those supervisors check the breathalyzers once a month in person.

"A technical supervisors basic role is to make sure the equipment is functioning the way it should. To make sure the tests are being run the proper way," said Trooper Dark.

Trooper Dark said with their checks and balances in place they were able to stop this, but local Defense Attorney Robert Perkins says it could be too late for several DWI cases.

"It's pretty unbelievable," said Perkins. "If they weren't being tested there is no way of knowing if they were functioning close to accurate or nowhere near accurate."

And he says courts should expect many motions for new trials. 

"It could really have far reaching effects. If it could happen in Houston why couldn't it happen here?"

But while Perkins says this could undermine every breath test given in the state, Troopers say here in East Texas, that is just not the case.

"The instrument has a mechanism to tell you if it is corrupt," said Trooper Dark.

As far as the Houston incident is concerned the criminal investigation is ongoing and the findings will be turned over to the DA to potentially press charges against her.

Danielle Capper, Reporting

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