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Police Officers Make Mistakes Too, Part 1


As highly trained and hardworking as police officers are, they aren’t exempt from human error. So what happens when these human errors threaten the freedom or infringe on the rights of citizens? This case demonstrates how snap judgments, insufficient evidence and unfair treatment can blur the line of justice and how we at Costa Law Firm work to make sure the truth is heard.

Case: Officer didn’t know how to use breath test machine

Case Summary: A man (let’s call him Joe) was pulled over and accused of driving under the influence of alcohol by Const. Kevin Driscoll. The officer requested that the man take a breath test to determine whether or not he was legally intoxicated. The breath test results were documented as E rather than E followed by a number score because the officer mistook the E to mean error. The officer insisted on six attempts at the test and charged the man for refusing to provide a breath sample. Joe was later found not guilty of these charges.

Snap Judgments: The police officer accused Joe of being intoxicated and refusing to provide him with a proper breath test sample. If the officer did not know how to operate his breath test machine to validate his assumption, how could he be so certain?

Insufficient evidence: Const. Driscoll was completely unaware as to what an E2 or an E3 meant. He was used to seeing the E0 result on his breath analysis device, but he didn’t even write E0 in his notes – he just wrote E. This rendered his notes defective. It’s crucial for police to be competent and knowledgeable about the machines that they are using if they are going to be using them to lay charges.

Unfair Treatment: As mentioned in the article, the police officer knew how to turn the machine on and off, but didn’t know how to operate it beyond that point. It seems unfair that this man’s liberty, license and criminal record were at stake with such little evidence. Not to mention substantive fines and all of the obstacles that he had to endure.

*Disclaimer:  The information provided in this article is NOT legal advice but fundamental information to be further inquired upon professionally.  You should always consult with a qualified lawyer to obtain proper advice.

For legal advice, contact Costa Law Firm.


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