Port Moody breathalyzers scrutinized again

Breathalyzers used by the Port Moody Police are under scrutiny again after an administrative error was discovered on several roadside prohibition documents filed since June.

Vancouver defence lawyer Paul Doroshenko, who has been investigating documents related to the roadside screening devices since he first raised questions last October about how the equipment was being calibrated, said incorrect dates on the forms mean all roadside prohibitions issued since June should be overturned.

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Doroshenko told The Tri-City News last week that more than 50 immediate roadside prohibitions have been issued since June, with 25 people blowing fails and another 25 blowing a warn. Because of the error, Doroshenko believes the results of the breathalyzer tests are unreliable.

"It is shocking to me," he said. "You have no idea whether you have blown into a device that has been serviced or is in need of servicing."

But the Port Moody Police say the incorrect dates on the forms are simply a clerical error related to nine immediate roadside prohibitions (IRPs).

The documents are the certificates of an Approved Screening Device (ASD) calibrator. The forms are completed every 28 days, when the ASDs are taken out of service and re-calibrated to ensure they're functioning properly.

The error occurred when the officer entered the same 28-day calibration expiration date twice on the form, including where the service expiry date - an annual date designated by the manufacturer when the devices must be sent back for testing - is supposed to go.

The officer entered the calibration expiry date in both places on the form and left off the service expiry date. None of the ASDs used in the nine IRP files were used past their annual service expiry date.

Once the error was pointed out, the officer contacted the superintendent of motor vehicles for advice on how to remedy the situation. The officer has since submitted sworn police supplemental reports for the nine IRPs affected by the error.

"It's human error, it's unfortunate," said PMPD Const. Luke van Winkel. "But if mistakes are made, the agency has no problem owning up to it and moving on from there."

The recently discovered clerical error is a separate issue from the ongoing investigation into the PMPD's roadside screening devices.

Last October Doroshenko suggested there were flaws in the way the PMPD calibrates its screening devices, resulting in inaccurate results and unwarranted penalties for drunk driving.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner is investigating the matter, and the PMPD is also conducting an internal investigation.


-with file from Gary McKenna

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