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DUI Crackdown: Breathalyzers Return to DC Police Cars

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credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images

credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — D.C. police will resume breath alcohol testing for suspected drunken drivers later this week, two years after the program was suspended because of testing equipment flaws.

The new program takes effect on Friday. A trained police operator will measure breath alcohol content as police process an arrest, and police will also conduct field sobriety tests at the scene.

The program was suspended in 2010 after inaccurately calibrated equipment called into question hundreds of drunken driving convictions. Police relied on urine tests in the absence of blood alcohol tests.

Mayor Vincent Gray says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided a $150,000 grant to allow to the program to continue.

New laws that went in effect in August allow for harsher penalties for first-time offenders, repeat offenders and drivers with extremely high breath alcohol scores.

The Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act of 2012 also reduces the legal blood alcohol limit to .04 for commercial drivers — half of the regular limit.

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