According to Washington, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles, improperly calibrated breath test machines have thrown into question nearly 400 convictions in DWI cases. It seems that the machines were so poorly calibrated that they would overstate the estimated alcohol concentration by 20%. Somehow the officer in charge of maintaining the machines set the baseline alcohol concentrations incorrectly.
Now comes the parade of writs, dismissals and expunctions - but there is nothing that can be done to compensate the victims of the breath testers for the hell they went through as a result of the faulty machines.
These machines are every bit as fallible as any other mechanical device -- the result of a breath test is not the legal equivalent of Moses coming down from the mountain hold the Ten Commandments. The people operating these machines don't know how they work. Hell, they don't even know if the machines working properly. The breath test operator is nothing more than a glorified monkey who turns the machine on, types in some information and tells a driver to blow.