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Washington’s New Breath Test Device: Draeger Alcotest 9510

Posted Friday, March 16, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

When the Washington State Patrol decided to finally replace its aging fleet of DataMaster and DataMaster CDM breath machines, it did so out of necessity. The DataMaster manufacturer National Patent Analytical Systems announced that they would be no longer produce these machines and technicians were forced to use old parts for repairs. The Washington State Patrol decided to purchase the Dräger’s Alcotest 9510 as Washington’s new breath test machine.

The Alcotest 9510 measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood by taking two separate breath samples and then sends those samples one at a time through the machine’s two testing chambers. The first chamber analyzes alcohol contained in the breath sample by using a chemical reaction from an electrochemical cell (referred to as the EC result). Next the machine sends the same breath sample into a second chamber where it is tested using infrared lights called infrared spectroscopy (referred to as the IR result). Once IR result is completed the machine purges itself of the air sample and gets ready for the second breath sample from the suspect.

For a successful final BAC, all 4 readings must be within a certain tolerance of one another to be considered a “true” reading. This is done by plugging the numbers into an algorithm created by the manufacturer. However, Washington State law gives the defendant the benefit of the doubt by taking the lowest of the 4 readings and rounding down to the second decimal place.

Additionally, the suspect must meet certain requirements such as a minimum air volume and blowing duration. If the sample is too small and the machine cannot test it, an officer might think you are playing games with the machine and purposely not blowing hard enough. This could result in a Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test.As with the prior machine, the officer must change the mouth piece between each breath to minimize the effects of any residual alcohol. There must also be a two-minute lock out between each breath sample to ensure the machine has enough time to purge the last breath sample before taking a new one.

Additionally, an officer must conduct a “15 minute observation period” to observe the suspect continuously prior to blowing into the machine.
Finally, the Drager uses two ethanol dry gas cylinders mounted on the rear of the instrument rather than the wet external sample. These are secured with a technician key and cannot be altered by the operator.

If you have been arrested for Driving Under the Influence, it is imperative you speak with an attorney immediately. Call my office for a free consultation at 206-729-3477.

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