Council OKs Seeking Donation for Portable Breath Testing Equipment

The Derry Town Council has voted unanimously to allow Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau to apply for and accept a donation of portable breath testing equipment from the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission Division of Enforcement and Licensing.

The Council reviewed the request and voted 7-0 to accept it in the Aug. 5 meeting.

Police Chief Ed Garone spoke to the devices, saying that the Division of Enforcement and Licensing was prepared to donate $3,200 worth of equipment at $320 per unit, for a total of 10 units for Derry.

The devices would be used by his department to test the level of alcohol a person has consumed or in some cases not consumed, Garone said.

The devices would require no outlay from the town, although it would be necessary to purchase supplies such as mouthpieces and batteries. Garone estimated that supplies would cost $380 and would last about five years.

“Have you had success in getting convictions from these?” Councilor Michael Fairbanks asked Garone.

Garone said the devices were not used for evidence but in probable cause situations.

Chairman Mark Osborne observed that some courts have had trouble with the “reliability” of the devices, and asked how much weight the department places on their use.

Garone compared the devices to a polygraph or lie detector. “It can’t be used in court, but it does give us direction,” he said.

For example, he said, a person could have had one beer and then gone into diabetic shock for a medical reason, and this device could confirm that the subject is not intoxicated but suffering from a medical issue, Garone said.

“We don’t rely heavily on it, we use it as an indicator,” he said.