DUI Breath Tests Under Scrutiny In Florida

Reliability Of Device Called Into Question By Attorneys And Judges

A popular DUI breath test device used by police throughout Florida is coming under increasing scrutiny, according to the Orlando Sentinel. A panel of judges in Orange County recently granted defense attorneys access to the software of the Intoxilyzer 8000. The judges noted the device can produce anomalies and may not be entirely reliable. The devices have also attracted attention in Ohio, where a number of DUI cases could be thrown out because of problems with the machines. The Orange County case, depending on how it unfolds, may also have a significant impact on DUI charges faced by people in Florida.

Magic Black Box

The Orange County judges referred to the Intoxilyzer 8000 as a "magic black box" for its ability to produce strange and anomalous results during DUI tests. While the judges said that most of the results given by the device were accurate, there were enough unusual results to raise questions about the breath test's reliability overall.

One test, for example, reported that the person had managed to blow 15 liters of breath into the machine, a figure that is, in the words of the judges, "not humanly possible." The judges noted that even if the device is usually accurate, that would not be good enough since people's liberty often depend on results given by the Intoxilyzer 8000.

Similar Problems In Ohio

In Ohio, where many police forces also use the Intoxilyzer 8000, similar problems have been reported with the device. According to the Columbus Dispatch, a recent ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the Ohio Department of Health to turn over data from the devices. The ruling, and how the health department responds, could have a significant impact on the 36,000 drunken driving arrests made in that state annually.

It is as yet unclear what effect the Orange County judges' decision will have on the future of DUI arrests in Florida. Since the device's manufacturer has shown resistance to handing over access to its software, calling it a trade secret, the legal battle looks set to continue. However, some have suggested that the latest ruling could see a number of people currently charged with DUI being offered better plea deals in the near future.

Defending Against A DUI

Many people assume that challenging a charge of drunken driving is almost impossible, especially when police have results provided by such "scientific" devices as the Intoxilyzer 8000. But as the above story shows, people who have been charged with a DUI should never assume that their conviction is a guarantee. Numerous factors, including the reliability of breath test devices, can raise important questions about a DUI charge.

Anybody who has been charged with DUI should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A DUI is a serious offense that can haunt people for the rest of their lives and it's best to have dedicated legal representation at one's side as early in the process as possible.