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Continuity: Use of a Seal

Tip 38: One of the best ways to control wet-bath simulator alcohol standard continuity is to use alphanumeric police seals and record their numbers/codes in the Alcohol Standard Log (both outgoing and incoming), in the solution change officer's notes (both outgoing and incoming), and in the subject breath test QT officer's notes. A seal between the upper housing and the jar ensures that no one has tampered with the solution between the time the seal is applied and the time it is removed. Optionally, as in the image below, particulars of the alcohol standard used, date/time and solution change officer can be entered directly onto the seal. Note the seal number code at the very bottom of the image.

This image was captured by a professional photographer retained by the defence. This type of seal and the information it contains cannot be seen with any acceptable degree of resolution in a breath room video recording. Consent attendance of a professional photographer, in a detachment, to take such images, with the consent of all parties, facilitates examination and cross-examination of police witnesses in the courtroom, respecting local wet-bath simulator standard operating procedures and is a good alternative to a Criminal Code Court-ordered view. Please see R. v. W. at Milton, 2013 ONCJ 407 paragraph 5 where the Court indicates "I ordered that the defence be permitted a view of the Intoxilyzer room in which the tests had been conducted on Mr. W". In the absence of such images, the defence can only guess at the type of information on the seal and method of attachment. Having an image of the seal is important for cross-examination of the QT if as in R. v. W., the QT indicates that they obtained information as to alcohol standard identity from a seal.

Wet-bath simulator with alphanumeric seal
Image taken by defence photographer. Note seal, mercury thermometer, and also RS 232 cable attached at back.

The information written on a seal, such as this one may, of course, be reliable or not reliable, depending on whether or not the seal is properly attached and whether the solution change QT followed protocol correctly.

An astute defence counsel will examine police notes and the Alcohol Standard Log at the prior solution change, at the time of the subject tests, and at the time of the subsequent solution change to determine if the seal (the particular alphanumeric number) was observed to be intact. Alcohol Standard Logs should always display both incoming seal numbers (immediately prior to solution change) and outgoing seal numbers (immediately after solution change). The seal numbers should match other entries in the Alcohol Standard Log.

The question needs to be asked throughout Ontario: Why don't all police services use simulator alphnumeric seals to control continuity?


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