We’re Stacy Cowley and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, reporters for The New York Times. We investigated how legal and forensic flaws in alcohol breath testing have led to the dismissal of tens of thousands of tests in recent years. Ask us anything.
On this week’s episode of The Times’s TV show “The Weekly,” we looked into lawsuits in multiple states — including Colorado, Massachusttes, New Jersey and Washington — that called into question the reliability of the breath tests used to prosecute drunk drivers. The science behind the tests is generally sound, but human errors and lax oversight have led to some catastrophic mistakes. In Massachusetts and New Jersey alone, more than 30,000 tests that led to convictions have recently been tossed out because the tests were unreliable.
That cuts both ways. Potentially innocent drivers have been punished based on faulty tests. But when large batches of tests are dismissed, it becomes much harder for prosecutors to convict dangerous drivers and keep them off the road. You can read our full investigation here.
UPDATE 12:30pm: Thanks everyone! We're signing off for now but will check back later to catch a few more questions.