Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) in Breathalyzers
In February 1982, Smith & Wesson, a major manufacturer of DUI breath testing devices, notified law enforcement agencies that its Breathalyzer Model 1000 had been found to experience interference from radio frequency transmissions under certain DUI test conditions, resulting in false test results. Subsequent investigation suggested that various power levels also affected Breathalyzer accuracy in Models 900 and 900A.
The potential sources of radio frequency interference (RFI) within the law enforcement environment are numerous – for example, AM and FM radios, police station dispatchers, hand-held police transmitters, teletypes, and police radar units. Each of these may emit the kind of interference that could cause specific DUI breath alcohol test devices to render false results. It was then learned that the federal government (National Bureau of Standards) was testing for RFI sensitivity in every type of breath testing device currently in use by law enforcement agencies in DUI investigations.
On September 10, 1982, Smith & Wesson issued a customer advisory suggesting that all breathalyzers used in drunk driving investigations be tested as a matter of preparedness for possible courtroom testimony to avoid the issue of RFI in breathalyzers.
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