D.C. police will resume blood-alcohol tests for suspected drunken drivers Friday, 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 blood-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.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided a $150,000 grant to allow to the program to continue, Mayor Vincent Gray said.
The testing comes as D.C. officials rely on a new law that provides higher penalties for first-time drunken drivers and more severe sentencing for repeat offenders and those with very high blood-alcohol content. It’s also tougher on impaired drivers with children in the vehicle and drivers of commercial vehicles and vehicles for hire.