Abysmal Quality of Breathanalyzers Software

In Israel, if you drive a car and a policeman asks you to submit yourself to test by breathanalyzer to determine whether you are drunk or not, you must submit to test. Otherwise, you will be deemed to have driven under influence.

What if the instrument wrongly determines that you have blood concentration of ethanol above the legal limit?

At least one breathanalyzer used in USA was proven to have criminally unreliable software. For example, “the software takes an airflow measurement at power-up, and presumes this value is the “zero line” or baseline measurement for subsequent calculations. No quality check or reasonableness test is done on this measurement.”

Based upon past experience with car speed measurement radar guns in Israel, I am skeptical whether Israeli courts would accept such information as defense by people wrongly accused of drunk driving.

Software-driven instruments used for medical diagnosis are subjected to stringent quality requirements and strict regulations (see, for example, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Premarket Notification 510(k)) before the manufacturer is allowed to sell the instrument. Currently, no similar legal framework exists for regulating instruments used for law enforcement.

Author: Omer Zak

I am deaf since birth. I played with big computers which eat punched cards and spew out printouts since age 12. Ever since they became available, I work and play with desktop size computers which eat keyboard keypresses and spew out display pixels. Among other things, I developed software which helped the deaf in Israel use the telephone network, by means of home computers equipped with modems. Several years later, I developed Hebrew localizations for some cellular phones, which helped the deaf in Israel utilize the cellular phone networks. I am interested in entrepreneurship, Science Fiction and making the world more accessible to people with disabilities.

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