Over the past few decades, the fight to make driving safer for both vehicle operators and passengers has focused on reducing the number of people driving under the influence. The strategies used by law enforcement and the legislature have been broad, including public education, increased penalties for driving under the influence, and increased enforcement and detection. One of the keys to that success has been the rise of breath tests for drunk driving. As more and more data is gathered on those devices, though, it is becoming increasingly obvious that there are serious questions about their reliability and their results.
Over the last two or three decades, much of the emphasis on traffic safety and enforcement has been built around raising awareness-and penalties-when it comes to driving under the influence. While each state has its own mix of requirements and penalties, one feature that is present nationwide is the use of the breath test as law enforcement's go-to measurement of intoxication-at least in the field. In most states, with the exception of South Dakota, it is even the preferred evidentiary measurement for intoxicated driving. What if the breath tests are less accurate than they are represented to be, though?