The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has announced the firing of a
DUI inspector who deliberately turned off breath testing equipment when they looked like they were going to fail required inspections. Sandra Viega serviced machines in South Florida and her actions threaten the outcome of numerous cases of driving under the influence in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.
Viega acknowledged to Miami Beach and Miami-Dade police departments that she intentionally turned off the power to Breathalyzer machines when it appeared they would fail required calibration tests. She said that by pulling the plug on the equipment there would be no documentation of the attempted test. Under Florida law, such testing must be undertaken monthly by local law enforcement agencies and annually by the FDLE in order to ensure that the machines are properly calibrated. If the tests are interrupted or altered, the accuracy of the breath testing equipment can be questioned. In response, South Florida DUI defense attorneys are challenging drunk driving cases, saying the lack of proper maintenance may have lead to false BAC readings and erroneous arrests when their clients were actually not legally intoxicated.
The FDLE issued a notice to law enforcement agencies in three south Florida counties last July, telling them to alert prosecutors handling DUI cases that breath sample evidence was compromised. Prosecutors, in turn, were responsible for informing defense attorneys whose cases may have been affected.
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