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Lawmaker Calls For Study On BAC Devices

Nader Sayegh

A state lawmaker wants the state Health Department to study and make a final ruling about how accurate the devices used to measure a person’s blood-alcohol content actually are.

Assemblyman Nader Sayegh, D-Yonkers, recently proposed A.8762 in the state Assembly directing the state health commissioner to study the effectiveness and accuracy of devices used by law enforcement agencies to estimate blood-alcohol content. Sayegh said a recent New York Times article cast doubt on the scientific accuracy of many of the devices used by law enforcement.

“Some of these devices can create a reading indicating that a person is intoxicated from hair trigger sensitivities not limited to having used hand sanitizer before an examination,” Sayegh wrote in his legislative justification. “While field tests are not court admissible, the devices used in police stations are and they also have been found to be inaccurate. This legislation would require the Commissioner of Health to conduct a study examining the validity and reliability of this important tool used to secure convictions in cases where a suspect is found to be under the influence of alcohol. In addition, this the findings of this study would help assure New Yorkers that justice is being carried out impartially.”

The legislation would give the health commissioner a year to create the report, which would include which devices are used by law enforcement agencies, how accurate those devices are, the margin of error for the devices, the likelihood of an inaccurate reading and other relevant information.

Companion legislation has not yet been introduced in the state Senate.

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